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Paris Air Show 2019 show preview

14 June 2019 Gareth Jennings

The 53rd iteration of the largest and longest-running aerospace trade show in the world is taking place at Le Bourget from 17 to 23 June. While the focus remains the commercial sector, defence will continue to have a strong showing with the Franco-German and Spanish Future Combat Air System project set to generate particular interest at this year's event.

With the French military engaged on a number of fronts throughout North Africa, the air force and the air arms of the army and navy will be showcasing their latest platforms and equipment, as well as briefing on their future requirements and solutions.

International participation will come with a strong showing from the US Department of Defense which will display fixed- and rotary-aircraft from across the armed forces, as well as from the nearly 2,500 military and civilian companies and contractors displaying their wares across more 130,000 m2 of indoor and outdoor exhibition area.

This year's event will focus in large part on the international efforts currently underway to develop the 6th generation of combat aircraft, with France, Germany, Spain, the UK and the US already engaged, and others such as Italy and Sweden poised to join one of the competing efforts in the not-too-distant future. While until very recently the future of combat aviation was seen as being exclusively unmanned, today the emphasis is on a mix of manned and unmanned platforms all working together as part of a larger system-of-systems. At the heart of all of these efforts is a manned multirole combat aircraft operating in concert with swarms of unmanned 'loyal wingmen'.

Further to the Franco-German FCAS, France will be showcasing for the first time at the event a mock-up of the Airbus H160M that it has developed for the French armed forces' Joint Light Helicopter (Hélicoptère Interarmées Léger: HIL) programme. Under the HIL programme, the H160M will replace most of the helicopter types in the French military from 2026. As well as highlighting its ongoing project for the French armed forces, Airbus will be touting the helicopter to the international market also.

As with every running of the Paris Air Show, comparisons will inevitably be drawn with the event's sister-show and competitor, the Farnborough International Airshow. However, while Farnborough is experiencing something of a crisis, with future public display days being cancelled due to safety worries, as well so far unrealised concerns for the wider UK aerospace market over Brexit, Paris is showing no such anxieties, with a full flying display scheduled for the entire week of the event and plenty of announcements and agreements expected throughout.

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