Farnborough International Airshow 2018
India Strategic|August 2018

Duopoly of Boeing and Airbus Rule the Roost

R. Chandrakanth

The very first day of the iconic Farnborough International Airshow 2018 (from July 16 to 22) in Hampshire, witnessed two major announcements: One, the United Kingdom unveiling a plan to produce a sixth generation fighter aircraft dubbed ‘Tempest’ and, two, it was ready to fund the aerospace industry to the tune of GBP 300 million immediately. With Brexit (the UK to exit European Union on March 29, 2019) looming large over the UK skies, these announcements were significant from the aerospace and defence perspective as these sectors need all the support that they can garner.

‘Tempest’ is futuristic. The UK Defence Secretary, Gavin Williamson unveiled a full-scale model of the futuristic combat jet which is to be developed over the next two decades, to become operational by 2035. ‘Tempest’ will have both manned and unmanned capabilities and would be part of the GBP 2 billion investment programme. The partners in the programme are going to be BAe Systems (advanced combat air systems and integration); Rolls-Royce (advanced power and propulsion systems); Leonardo (advanced sensors, electronics and avionics); and MBDA (advanced weapons systems). ‘Tempest’ is slated to replace Eurofighter Typhoon.

Eurofighter TYPHOON, CENTRAL PILLAR OF European COMBAT JETS

The day ‘Tempest’ was announced, Eurofighter Typhoon was scheduled to have a press briefing, but it got postponed by a day. Clarifying to the media, Eurofighter Jagdflugzeug Gmbh CEO, Volker Paltzo, said the postponement of the media briefing had nothing to do with ‘Tempest’, but emphasised that Eurofighter Typhoon would continue to form a core part of any European future combat air system (FCAS), working hand-in-hand with any future European fighter programme – manned or unmanned. “Eurofighter Typhoon is the benchmark for European collaboration – now and in the future. Eurofighter will be a central pillar of any European FCAS, and has a key role to play in this future system, operating alongside any existing or new European assets that may come into play in the future battlespace – across all mission scenarios.” Asked about how ‘Tempest’ would play out, he said “It is quite encouraging. It is fully aligned with our product. We think we will carry forward with our capability enhancements and maybe we can offer solutions to FCAS ideas. europe will probably converge into one system.”

However, barring this major announcement, the defence segment at Farnborough International Airshow remained more or less in the background with biggies of defence such as Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems being conspicuous with their muted presence. Not surprisingly, the commercial aerospace industry eclipsed military aviation, eliciting Mr Richard Aboulafia, Vice President of the Teal Group to state, "Farnborough has never been much of a military show, it is more about commercial jetliners.”

FARNBOROUGH AIRSHOW CONNECTS INDUSTRY WORTH $350 BILLION 

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