The US Air Force's decision to showcase the Lockheed Martin F-22 in Dubai deepens the mystery over its abrupt disappearance earlier this year from the flying line-up in Paris.

Dubai's air show organisers achieved an unexpected coup with the announcement in early October that the F-22 would provide arguably the event's biggest, purely aeronautical highlight.

Few believed the USAF would introduce the F-22 at a major Middle East air show only a few months after scratching its planned appearance at Europe's biggest aerospace event.

F-22 at Dubai
 © Billypix

At the time of the Paris withdrawal, US government officials explained that operational commitments required that no F-22 could be spared.

The USAF's operational status does not appear to have measurably slackened since June, and nor has the F-22 broken its hiatus from performing any operational flights in Afghanistan or Iraq.

However, USAF officials saw fit to allow the F-22 to appear in Dubai, still one of the world's largest aerospace events but subordinate in global status to the Paris air show.

Speculation about the inconsistent decision-making over F-22 appearances this year has focused on both domestic budget issues and foreign security concerns.

The F-22's would-be visit to Paris last June came amid the height of the debate between the Obama administration and some members of Congress over the programme's future.

Two months later, Obama's proposal to kill the F-22 programme after building 187 aircraft prevailed over the opposition of Lockheed's supporters in Congress. The Dubai appearance was publicly announced only a few weeks after the F-22's fate was sealed by a Senate vote.

USAF officials also may have faced more security concerns in Paris than in Dubai. In a presentation that surfaced on the YouTube video sharing service, a USAF officer accused the French air force of spying during Red Flag exercises. There also remains lingering questions about the USAF's memory of controversy stirred up in 1991, when the Lockheed F-117 made its Paris debut.

Source: Flight Daily News