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Picture courtesy of Eurofighter GmbHTyphoon to the four

Farnborough International 2002, 22 - 28 July

Gary Parsons reports on the first 21st Century SBAC show

You get a Hoon with Typhoon
Defence Minister Geoff Hoon (right) with Craig Penrice (left) and Charlie Chan (centre). Picture courtesy of Eurofighter GmbH

Four Eurofighters - make that Typhoons as soon as they landed - took to the skies above Farnborough when three developmental models met up with the first instrumented production aircraft (IPA 1) on Tuesday 23 July - a sight that had never been seen before!

On hand to celebrate the event were UK Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon, the Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshall Sir Peter Squire, the Chief of Defence Procurement, Sir Robert Walmsley and Eurofighter CEO Filippo Bagnato. During the ceremonies, Hoon said, "Typhoon will be the most sophisticated aircraft the RAF has ever flown. It will provide a step change in the RAF's ability in both air superiority and air defence. It will be the backbone of the fast jet combat fleet for many years to come and will help us meet tomorrow's uncertain challenges."

IPA 1 was flown in by BAE Systems Eurofighter Project Pilot Craig Penrice with RAF Wing Commander David 'Charlie' Chan in the backseat. Chan has been selected to be the first officer commander of the RAF's first Typhoon unit, 17 Squadron, which is to be the Typhoon Operational Evaluation Unit (OEU).

"It is a great privilege to have been selected to command 17 Squadron and to fly the RAF's newest and most exciting aircraft," said Wing Commander Chan. "I can't wait to get started." He's certainly waited quite a while!

Farnborough International was once again the place to be, and do business. So said the SBAC, which claimed an independent report showed that the calibre of visitors was high, but the reduction in business announced accurately reflected the current market place. There was no denying that numbers were down - easy access into the show on all days was in marked contrast to previous years, although one must credit the organisation which was well-marshalled and efficient. It may have been affected by the Fairford experience, as warnings of high security checks may have deterred many who suffered in the long queues at RIAT, but although security was tight it was never intrusive.

First-timer was this Boeing C-40A Clipper, which will replace the C-9 in the US NavyDavid Norriss, Director of Marketing and Business Development for the SBAC, said "The key to the success of any trade exhibition is the quality of visitors it attracts. Around 150,000 people attended the show on its five trade days. We estimate a quarter of a million people will have attended Farnborough International 2002."

Virgin in name only?
Sir Richard Branson and the new Airbus A340-600. Picture courtesy of Airbus

Sir Richard Branson, Virgin Atlantic's chairman arrived at Farnborough International 2002 on the airline's first Airbus A340-600 waving the Union Jack out of the cockpit window. The aircraft, which was full of guests and media, departed from London Heathrow after the early morning VIP party where the supermodel Claudia Schiffer had named the aircraft "Claudia Nine". It wasn't the first time that Branson has used such PR in launching an aeroplane, and it probably wasn't Claudia's first PR job either.

Picture courtesy of Airbus

September 11th has had, and will continue to have, an impact on the aerospace industry. Farnborough signalled a return to confidence in growth, as traffic figures are now showing signs of recovery to pre-9/11 levels, and exhibitors and visitors at FI2002 saw how the global aerospace industry is coming back from this horrific day and were able to have a glimpse into its future.

David Marshall, SBAC Director General, said "Farnborough International is the shop window for the world's aerospace industry to display its wide range of products and capabilities and the overwhelming evidence of the take-up by exhibitors for this year's event and the high calibre of visitors confirm the status of Farnborough International as the world's premier aerospace business event."

But, many major players were only present in the vast trade halls, not on the flightline. Boeing just had a baby 737 on show, and the Russians were absent - mainly due to the Swiss threat (see our Berlin report) but many suspected they wouldn't have turned up anyway. Stars were few, and we'd seen it all before - Typhoon, F/A-18F and Gripen for the military, Airbus A318 (shortest in the Airbus range) and A340 (longest) from the airline industry. Just think what an impact JSF/F-35 would have made with the interest currently being shown from European nations, but we had to be content with a plastic replica once more. It's understandable we may never see F-22 due to its lack of export potential, but Lockheed's baby project is another matter.

Fantastic flying

Trade day flying was restricted to two hours, but was compact and highly entertaining with some of the best displays seen in recent times. Yes, we missed the thrust-vectoring Flanker but Boeing test pilot Ricardo Treven in the F/A-18F made up for that with a Su-27-esque routine that commenced with a 'cobra' and continued with many energy-sapping turns that belied the size of this big fighter. The aircraft were in the markings of VFA-41 'Black Aces' and VFA-102 'Diamondbacks' (these two units having recently transitioned from the F-14 Tomcat) and were due to be There was no licking the F/A-18Fdelivered to the US Navy units at NAS Lemoore, CA, after the show.

Typhoon was as impressive as ever, Chris Worning performing most of the week's displays (Italian pilot Maurizio Cheli was also on hand). Worning was quoted as saying "It's like taking a tiger by the tail", referring to Typhoon's lightning acceleration on take-off.

Flying stars
F/A-18F Hornet
F-16C Fighting Falcon
Typhoon
Airbus A318
Airbus A340
Alenia C-27J
Saab Gripen

Providing stiff competition for the new generation of fighters was the F-16C demonstration pilot who really squeezed every last 'g' out of the ageing airframe - it made the European displays look almost tame in comparison and showed that there's life left in the old dog yet. It's ironic that 21st Century Farnborough should be won over by an aircraft designed in the early seventies, long since its potential should have been realised, but emphasises the reluctance for the manufacturers to bring their new toys to play with. Gripen was willing, but showed that it is no more than a poor man's Eurofighter and lacks the manoeuvrability of its more modern rival. A curious addition to each day's flying schedule was Spitfire XIX PS853, not exactly cutting edge, but welcome all the same.

Hawks for Bahrain
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Farnborough was honoured with a visit by the King of Bahrain, who made an announcement that the Royal Bahraini Air Force has selected the Hawk trainer aircraft to meet their future trainer needs. BAE SYSTEMS Hawk Managing Director, Kevin Taylor, said, "I am pleased that the Kingdom of Bahrain has selected the Hawk for their training requirements. This announcement demonstrates that the Hawk is an adaptable, cost effective training platform suitable for use by air forces throughout the world. We now look forward to concluding negotiations and bringing the Hawk into service with the RBAF." No details of number procured or contract value were available, but a BAE Systems official stated that the aircraft bought "will be to the latest (Australian) standard, plus any developments".

In addition to the procurement of Hawk aircraft it is envisaged that the initial package will also contain test and ground equipment, technical assistance and training. The provision of Hawk and associated equipment will complete the programme for a world class advanced pilot training academy, the contract for basic and elementary training being signed between the Kingdom of Bahrain and BAE SYSTEMS in January 2002.

Debutantes

Making an international debut was Aero's L-159B ALCA (Advanced Light Combat Aircraft), which only flew for the first time on 1 June. A dual-purpose training and combat package, it's basically a dual-seat L-159A with avionics supplied by Boeing and a modern Honeywell ITEC F124 engine and is aimed squarely at the European combat trainer market.

Elbit/TAM Su-25 upgrade, the ScorpionLiterally dropping in at short notice was Pilatus's new PC-21 trainer - it finished its test programme on Thursday 18 July and a snap decision saw it taken directly to Fairford and RIAT, then onto Farnborough on Sunday ready for the week's trade days. Utilising its considerable experience of turboprop training aircraft, such as the PC-7 MkII and PC-9, Pilatus has designed a completely new aircraft, featuring a 1,600 SHP Pratt & Whitney PT6A-68B engine giving a top speed at low level of 330 kts. It has been designed with MFD displays and is intended to provide a lead-in trainer that is compatible with tomorrow's high-tech fighters such as Gripen, Rafale and Typhoon.

Only Russian hardware evident was a Su-25, displayed by a consortium of Israeli company Elbit and TAM of Tbilisi, Georgia. With an all-new glass cockpit, the modernised 'Scorpion' is very much an A-10 match and the upgrade is aimed at the 800+ still in service with Eastern European airforces. Whether they will be able to afford it is another matter.

British bits for Super Hornet
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BAE SYSTEMS has been awarded orders to the value of 8 million to provide systems and components for Advanced Targeting Forward Looking Infra Red (ATFLIR) pods for the US Navy's F/A-18 aircraft. BAE SYSTEMS Avionics is a member of the Raytheon Team that recently delivered the first production standard pod to the US Navy via Boeing, following a successful design and development programme.

These orders are for the low rate initial production phase (LRIP) of the programme, which leads to the provision of an enhanced targeting capability to the US Navy and US Marine Corps on their F/A-18 E/F and F/A-18 C/D aircraft. BAE SYSTEMS Avionics at Basildon is responsible for about 25% of the value of the ATFLIR system comprising:
NavFLIR - Navigation Forward Looking Infra Red
Laser Spot Tracker
Pod Adaptor Unit
Pod Electronics Housing
Roll Drive Units
These components and sub-systems have been developed over the past five years in close collaboration with the system prime contractor, Raytheon. The US Navy and Marine Corps are due to receive 574 pods with spares, to equip their F/A-18 E/F and F/A-18 C/D aircraft. The initial production pods will be used for technical and operational evaluation and eventually for forward deployment within the next year. Operational evaluation on the ATFLIR is scheduled for October 2002 and initial operational capability for the US Navy is planned for 2003.

AgustaWestland wasn't just concentrating on Apache - it had a new Lynx, the Westland's Super Lynx - picture courtesy of Westland AgustaSuper 300 (below) on show alongside a Merlin HC3, EH-101 Cormorant and NH-90. The Cormorant was especially nice to see, fresh from the Agusta factory and en-route to Canada - just emphasised what we had missed at Waddington.

American aircraft in the static park would have been warmly welcomed at the previous week's RIAT at Fairford - F/A-18F, S-3B Viking, C-2A Greyhound and E-2C Hawkeye all being the rarer US Navy types that seem to be reluctant to attend regular UK shows in the past few years. Heavily guarded all week, only invited guests were allowed into the compound, but it was good to see the aircraft in these security conscious times. The F-16C sported conformal wing tanks, an effort to increase the range and capability of the multi-role fighter.

Farnborough's new tower contrasts with its glorious pastRemembering its roots

The airfield may be changing dramatically under new owners TAG, but the show still took time to remember its glorious past, history that helped shape the aviation world we know today. On Monday, American born naturalised UK citizen Samuel F Cody was honoured when US exhibitors presented a plaque to be attached to the take off point of his "British Army Aeroplane No 1". The obelisk now stands in the garden of the very first RAF Officers' mess!

Two familiar names from Farnborough's past returned to the show on Wednesday when Neville Duke and Peter Twiss visited the show to sign new editions of their autobiographies. Duke is best remembered as Hawker's chief test pilot, a World Speed Record holder and for some memorable aerobatic displays in a Hunter at Farnborough in the 1950s. Twiss is also a former World Speed record holder having become the first man The hot weather was simply marvellous...to exceed 1,000mph (1,600kph) in the Fairey Delta 2.

You can ring my Bell
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Integrated Coast Guard Systems (ICGS), as part of the Integrated Deepwater System programme, selected the Bell-Agusta AB-139 on 23 July as part of the largest recapitalisation effort in the history of the Coast Guard. About 30 will be procured, although no firm details have been released.

The AB-139 will replace the Sikorsky HH-60J Jayhawk (S-70B) helicopters currently in operation, and beat off competition from Eurocopter (EC-155) and Bell-Textron (609 commercial tilt-rotor aircraft). The AB-139s will be used for missions such as search and rescue, maritime interdiction, anti-drugs patrols and other coast guard duties.

Publically speaking

Flying on the public days included such favourites as the BBMF, RAF display jets and, of course, the Red Arrows, but little in the way of classic jets - De Havilland's Sea Vixen was present, as were Golden Apple's T-33 and F-86 Sabre, but all remained firmly in the static park. The weather was fabulous for the two public days, making for an enjoyable time for the paying punter, who finally got to see Typhoon display not just once but twice each day, giving a welcome second chance to many photographers who were in the wrong position the first time (or fluffed their shots - no comment! Ed.). Some complained about the double-acts in the day, but we firmly support it if they are the star acts - Waddington's double-act F-15I in 2001 was appreciated by many. As long as the two routines are sufficiently far apart in the day, that is - the two Airbus slots were only two hours apart on both days, too close in our opinion.

Apache was kept busy with corporate demonstration flights, but avoided the public's gazeAs usual, the vast trade halls were packed with the latest grommets and widgets from every corner of the globe, reflecting the cautious optimism that is creeping back since last September. 2003 will celebrate a century of powered flight, and it was evident that it will also be a key year for the industry - more setbacks may push many firms under, as well as create more mergers of survival.

But, our argument remains that there are too many trade shows competing against each other for the good of the aviation business. Farnborough still claims to be 'The greatest airshow in the world', but it is certainly far from The flying kept everyone spellbound...well, most!that, as it has been for a number of years now. Berlin's May show inevitably stole much of Farnborough's thunder, and likewise some manufacturers waited until the Hampshire event to announce deals, thus devaluing both events to a degree. As we said before, one show, rotated through Farnborough, Paris and Berlin would mean each was the focus for the year, so would grow stronger and prosper. Has the industry the will to make it so?

Farnborough International 2004 will be from 19 - 25 July, unless of course they adopt our revolutionary idea!

 

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