In a rapid reversal, the US Air Force plans to take the stealthy Lockheed Martin F-35 to the Paris Air Show after all.
Only two weeks after the Joint Programme Office declared the F-35 would not make a debut appearance at the international marketing event, the air force announced on 6 May that the stealthy strike fighter will participate in the Paris air show next month.
The F-35's debut at Le Bourget comes a year after the short-takeoff-vertical-landing F-35B variant appeared at the Farnborough air show.
The USAF still can't confirm whether the F-35's participation in the Paris air show will be limited to a flying display, or whether the stealthy combat jet will be featured in the static park. Last year, the F-35B only flew over Farnborough, but took-off and landed from RAF Fairford.
The Paris appearance will mark an momentous event for both the F-35’s legacy and the broader history of US stealth aircraft abroad. No stealth aircraft has appeared in the Paris air show static display since the F-117 in 1991. The Northrop Grumman B-2 bomber paid a brief visit at the 1995 event. Fourteen years later, the Lockheed Martin F-22 was scheduled to attend, but the USAF canceled the appearance, citing availability of the aircraft.
The USAF announcement comes as the F-35A makes its first international deployment. Eight F-35As flew to Europe to train with NATO allies as part of a long-planned effort within the European Reassurance Initiative.
“Participation in the Paris Air Show will further demonstrate the ability of the Air Force, and our international partners, to deliver a broad range of combat airpower to any mission set,” the USAF release states.