UK Prime Minister David Cameron arrives at the show today amid hope that in the wake of recent political turmoil he will make key announcements demonstrating the country’s position as a top buyer of high-level military aircraft. Meanwhile the UK’s new fighter is expected to wow the crowds.
The Lockheed Martin F-35B to be acquired by the UK will be the most eagerly-anticipated military air display during the show, and show-goers will be keen to see it after the disappointment of 2014, when the fifth-generation fighter failed to make its UK and international debut here.
The UK’s first F-35B will be on display at the show, joined by two US Marine Corps examples. At 10:30 the UK aircraft will participate in a flypast with the Royal Air Force’s Red Arrows display team – accompanied, hopefully, by the Eurofighter Typhoon – showing the different dynamics of the service’s capabilities.
At the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford on 8 July, Air Cdre Linc Taylor, assistant chief of staff for capability delivery, combat air, told reporters that the next Strategic Defence and Security Review (SDSR) could see the UK opt to acquire a mixed fleet of F-35 variants, rather than just the 138 F-35Bs it is currently contracted for.
Aside from this high-profile display of UK military air power, Cameron’s last air show appearance as prime minister is also expected to see him sign two key contracts for the acquisition of new aircraft, which would represent a significant boost for US manufacturer Boeing’s orderbook.
The UK’s last SDSR, released in ¬November 2015, announced that the RAF would acquire the Boeing P-8 ¬Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft to replace the British Aerospace Nimrod MR2 after its retirement in 2010.
Nine of the type will be ordered under a deal worth an expected $3.2 billion, and the air show is a prime opportunity for the government to announce a major deal with its US ally.
The other key contract to be signed will be for the remanufacture of the Army Air Corps’ Boeing/Westland AH1 Apaches, which will be reconfigured into the AH-64E variant operated by the US Army in a deal expected to be worth some $3 billion.
Source: Flight Daily News