The drive by Russia's civil aircraft manufacturing industry to re-establish itself on the world stage was much in evidence at Farnborough.

From the flashy full-size mock-up of Irkut's all-new MS-21 single-aisle airliner, to the daily flying displays by Sukhoi's smart-looking Superjet 100 regional jet, the signals were loud and clear: Russia means business.

But once you break through all that air-show puff, the question remains: have the country's former design bureaux and manufacturing plants reorganised themselves sufficiently to really take on the West's incumbent suppliers and win?

There is no doubting the Russian industry's technical capabilities - remember it was Tupolev, not Toulouse, that was the first to fly a supersonic airliner. But the market landscape is in a rapid state of change.

Conscious of emerging threats - with China topping the list - the West's two mainline airliner suppliers are planning an aggressive response. Similarly, Bombardier's CSeries threatens to make all current small jets obsolete - the SSJ included - when it arrives in 2013. And Embraer doesn't plan to take this lying down.

But Russia knows it is aiming at a moving target - hence its bold and risky plan for the MS-21's design and structure. So there is certainly evidence of a newfound realism, which means that Russia - with a little help from Western partners - might just pull it off.

Source: Flight International