The Paris Air Show is only one month away, so let the speculation begin: will the F-22 make a debut appearance?
I believe the official word is "no comment", and the Paris Air Show press kit excludes the F-22 from the list of aircraft on static display. But there are some encouraging signs that a Raptor could make an at least brief appearance at Le Bourget.
A potential clue came last month when the F-22 flying display got road-tested for the first time at the Hampton Roads Air show. Watch the video here. The show happens to be perfectly timed as a Paris Air Show rehearsal. Hmmm …
Also, what better way to show solidarity with US President George Bush’s new best friend in France, Monsieur Sarkozy?
There is some history to overcome. When the F-117 stealth fighter made its Paris Air Show debut in 1991, the pilot created an international incident when he took a swipe at the arm of the French Defense Minister, who ill-advisedly tried to touch the aircraft’s wing. There also remain legendary tales of a conspiracy by French air traffic control to make the F-117 fly a circuitous route that roughly corresponded to a tour of the French military’s radar installations.
The DEW Line, for one, hopes that all of this could be overcome. A likely scenario may be for the F-22 to make a brief pass of the air show, but takeoff and land from Britain.