In the weeks leading up to the show, the continent’s aircraft spotters were whipping themselves into a frenzy of excitement. This was stimulated by the appearance of a single line entry on the organiser’s list of aircraft appearing at ILA.
This revealed that a Tupolev Tu-95 (NATO ASCC reporting name ‘Bear’) of the Russian Air Force would be appearing in category ‘De’ – that is to say making an ‘external air display’ – flying a display from its base, but not landing at Berlin.
Rumours went back and forth, with the airshow organisers giving different answers to the question “had its appearance been cancelled?”. To the disappointment of the aircraft enthusiasts, this was finally confirmed by the Russian embassy in Berlin.
Elsewhere in Europe, ‘Bears’ are still making regular ‘appearances’ albeit not in airshows, with NATO air forces encountering the Tu-95 more frequently than at any time since the end of the Cold War as Russia’s ‘Long Range Aviation’ flexes its muscles by probing NATO airspace.
The withdrawal of the Tu-95 left the MiG-29SM as the only Russian aircraft on the list, and according to the exhibitors, this will appear only in the static display. After the stunning aerobatic display routine given by the MiG-29M OVT at the last ILA show, this marks a disappointment for show-goers, and a significant scaling down of Russian participation, though the Russian pavilion is packed with interesting exhibits and with hungry companies eager to do business at Berlin.
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