With just the Pakistani-Chinese JF-17 and Dassault Rafale among fighter jets performing aerial displays at the ongoing Paris Air Show 2019, the skies over Le Bourget were missing the thunder and after-burner flame that are the hallmark of any air show.
“JF-17 Thunder multi-role fighter jet of Pakistan Air Force gave an impressive performance at the opening ceremony of the 53rd edition of 7-day International Paris Air Show,” Pakistani newspaper The News glossed over the performance of its country’s fighter jet.
The only other combat jet to take part in the air show, France’s Dassault Rafale went about its climbs, loops and dives in a monotonous manner having performed the same maneuvers at previous Paris and other shows in the Middle East and Asia.
The Belgian Air Force’s F-16s are expected to add to these two flying displays during public days this weekend.
Eurofighter Typhoon, flown by the UK and German air forces, was conspicuous by its absence in the flying display; an indication perhaps of its depleting sales prospects globally. It recently lost out a bid to sell 8 jets to Bulgaria which preferred US-made F-16s instead. It only sales prospects are probably Germany and maybe Switzerland which are looking to buy new jets.
In fact, Eurofighter has not issued the customary press release on the eve of the show, a practice which most jet manufacturers do on the eve of a major event. Eurofighter was missing from the static displays as well.
Saab Gripen, another European jet seeing depleting global demand too was missing; both from the flying and static displays. Saab was recently asked by Switzerland’s defense procurement agency, Armasuisse to cancel its flight test as part of the Swiss fighter jet procurement program. Armasuisse doubted that the Gripen E jet would be ready in time for the procurement planned for 2022.
The hot selling F-35, Europe’s most purchased fighter jet in recent years, was brought to the show but only in static display.
Adding to dampness of the flying display was the absence of Russian jets such as the Su-35 and MiG-35. While the Russians were keen to bring their jets to the show, European Union sanctions against Russia prevented them from doing so. A Rosoboronexport press released blamed ‘competition,’ for the situation and invited potential customers to the Moscow show, MAKS in August to view ‘spectacular’ flying demonstrations.