Home » Air » The U.S. Military Aircraft That Flew in Paris

The U.S. Military Aircraft That Flew in Paris

by Brendan McGarry on June 24, 2013


PARIS — Aviation enthusiasts were quick to spot the few American-made military aircraft that did fly at this year’s Paris Air Show.

No fixed-wing plane currently operated by the U.S. military took to the skies. Drone-maker General Atomics brought a new Predator B, better known by its Air Force designation, MQ-9 Reaper. But the unmanned vehicle remained grounded.

Two other U.S. planes flew, including the World War II-era P-38 Lightning fighter and the C-121 Super Constellation transporter, both made by the predecessor of Lockheed Martin Corp. But those types of propeller-driven craft completed their final military missions decades ago.

The only aircraft in U.S. service today that flew at the event was an export version of the UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter, made by Sikorsky Aircraft Corp., part of Hartford, Conn.-based United Technologies Corp.

The U.S. fighter fleet, including the F-15, F-16, F-18 and F-35, was entirely absent.

The U.S. drastically scaled back its presence at the world’s biggest international air show, as the Defense Department froze spending on such events amid federal budget cuts. The move allowed European arms makers, especially Russia, to take center stage.

Still, Pentagon officials and U.S. company representatives attended the event to capitalize on upcoming opportunities in locations such as Eastern Europe, the Middle East and the Asia-Pacific region.

United Technologies Corp.‘s Sikorsky brought the S-70i to the show to market the chopper to potential international customers, especially Poland. The country next year plans to pick a firm to build as many as 70 combat support helicopters in a potential $3 billion deal that’s among the biggest opportunities on the international rotorcraft market.

United Technologies Corp.‘s Sikorsky is competing for the order against AgustaWestland, part of Rome-based Finmeccanica SpA, and Eurocopter, part of Leiden, Netherlands-based European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co.

General Atomics plans to sell an unarmed version of its Predator unmanned system to the United Arab Emirates and other countries in the Middle East as part of a plan to boost international sales, a vice president said.

The drone, called the Predator XP, is equipped with radar and sensors to offer wide-area surveillance but not weapon systems such as laser-guided bombs or air-to-ground missiles, according to Christopher Ames, director of international strategic development for General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc., based near San Diego.

The company made an effort to display a new Predator B at the show, Ames said. “I’m told we’re one of the only U.S. companies displaying an actual aircraft,” he said. “We worked hard to make it happen.”

The classic planes were also brought to the show by the private sector. The P-38 is actually the restored White Lightnin’ aircraft owned by the Austrian company, Red Bull GmbH, which makes the popular energy drink, Red Bull. The C-121 “Connie” is owned by the luxury Swiss watch maker, Breitling SA.

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{ 42 comments… read them below or add one }

Michael Ralsky June 24, 2013 at 8:45 am

I beleive Breitling is a "Swiss" watch maker, as opposed to "Switch."


Musson June 24, 2013 at 8:50 am

A Switch watch can be worn on either wrist. It is the switch hitter of timepieces.


blight_ June 24, 2013 at 8:54 am

It's a switch (for hitting people) that tells the time.


Steve June 24, 2013 at 9:15 am

It really speaks to the tough fiscal climate that at this year's Paris Air Show, European companies selling energy drinks and wrist watches flew more U.S. military aircraft (albeit retired aircraft) than did American aircraft manufacturers!


blight_ June 24, 2013 at 9:29 am

That just means Lockheed and Boeing didn't show up.

Neither "needs" to go to the air show to attract buyers for their wares. The Israelis and Saudis will buy -15's, the Qataris, the Emirates, the Israelis, the Singaporeans will buy -16's. The production lines buzz without an air show.


superraptor June 24, 2013 at 10:42 am

but our race to the bottom continues


SJE June 24, 2013 at 3:25 pm

No one doubts the quality of US weapons systems: just the ability to be delivered on time and on budget. In that climate, choosing not to wate money on another dog and pony show suggests that def contractors are starting to wise up


EJ257 June 24, 2013 at 9:05 pm

It's only late and over budget when Uncle Sam is buying it. Usually because he is the first customer and he gets to decide which bells and whistles to put on it and he is also footing the bill for development of said bells and whistles. When the export customers are buying the product is already done. For them it's like going to a showroom and picking out a new car.

Vincent June 24, 2013 at 10:58 am

Is it because of the French Mistral Helicopter Carrier being sold to the Russians???


Cato June 24, 2013 at 11:33 am

Sounds like penny wise/pound foolish bureaucracy. Many of our systems depend on foreign sales to keep the lines open. How many F-22s did we ask for and how many did we build?

I'm sorry I can't put a positive spin on this, not showing up at Paris is the canary in the mine shaft for US aircraft manufacturing.


blight_ June 24, 2013 at 12:33 pm

Did we get a lot of buys out of that airshow?

I'm curious if we can ride the coat-tails of the "we obliterated Saddam" just a little longer; or not.


Michael852 June 27, 2013 at 3:30 pm

On the F-22, Congress passed a law that the F-22 can NOT be sold overseas.


blight_ June 24, 2013 at 12:36 pm

To me, the fact that Lockheed didn't bring a -35 means that it Still Isn't Ready.

If they had brought an -A, -B, and a -C and built a catapult system to launch -C's and a separate system to catch them, they could've demonstrated the -35C is almost ready. A STVOL B would assure the foreign members of JSF that their product was almost ready, same with the -A.

I wonder if their concern is foreigners getting too close to American 5th gen aircraft (or at least, that will be an excuse).

If Boeing was confident in customers for a SHIRM, it would've been there. Or a Silent Eagle.

Not sure if Lockheed is selling extended upgrade packages for the -16, since it would compete with export JSF-A.


JE McKellar June 24, 2013 at 1:21 pm

Then again, maybe that -38 Lightning I version is actually the better deal - two engines, good CAS platform, and far cheaper.


Kim June 24, 2013 at 3:34 pm

Plus it looks great.


Bruce June 24, 2013 at 7:23 pm

Hey, it was on static dispay at Yuma, what more do you want? http://www.airliners.net/photo/USA—Marines/Lock…


Bob June 24, 2013 at 12:44 pm

If a defense contractor wants to have their product at the show they should pay the freight. If they need garner approval or support from the DoD then they can request it and expect to reimburse the government for the expenses incurred.

The DoD is not, should not, be in the business of being an arms dealer other than as an intermediary facilitator for processing the transaction.


Lance June 24, 2013 at 1:08 pm

I think the whole show of UH-60s where for Polish sales potential.


Tom June 24, 2013 at 5:31 pm

This article seems to fail to recognize that the S-70i is not a US product, it is a Polish product built by a subsidiary of Sikorsky in Poland. I don't think they brought a product being built in Poland to France to try and sell it to the Polish, they brought it to France to try and sell it to other international customers.


Rosalee June 24, 2013 at 1:56 pm

While we have no $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$ for many
things, including tours of the WH, WE do have $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$
for a $100 million dollar junket to Africa
Let the WH do a skype if he wants to talk to other heads of state
Oh but wait, if he did that, Michelle and the girls would not see South Africa,
Tanzania and Senegal………


SJE June 24, 2013 at 3:28 pm

My contacts tell me that the same expenses occurred under previous presidents. If we are worried about $$, focus on the bigger costs like wars. If Obama sends us into Syria $100 million looks like spare change.


SJE June 24, 2013 at 3:29 pm

Also, $100 million is a lot cheaper than sending in the military to control the influence of China and Islamic radicals in Africa: which was the whole reason for the trip.


blight_ June 25, 2013 at 9:51 am

Of course, once China captures Africa, "OBAMA DID NOTHING!!!!"

Some people can't be pleased.


hibeam June 25, 2013 at 9:03 am

Where do you live? — the IRS


PolicyWonk June 25, 2013 at 10:49 am

Maybe you should explain why your congressional representatives excluded themselves from the sequester? Or why the GOP refuses to undo the policies they enacted from 2001-2008 that economically ruined the USA?

And you might want to consider, that diplomacy is cheap, compared to wars. You might recall, that according to neoconservative troll Paul Wolfowicz the invasion of Iraq was only going to cost the USA ~$1B USD. We're currently at $2.2T and still counting…

And then Afghanistan: those idiots started both wars, without: sufficient resources to get the job done; no strategy to win; and no plans to bring our troops home.


Kurt Montandon June 26, 2013 at 3:18 pm

Uh huh. Because what's been completely standard for American Presidents for centuries is now THE WORST THING EVER because the Secret Kenyan Muslim Communist is doing it.

Of course, if he did do something like Skype with foreign leaders, I'm sure you and your ilk would be the first to froth at the mouth about how he wasn't taking international relations seriously, and it was just proof he wanted to destroy America.


Tom June 24, 2013 at 5:21 pm

I don't think whether or not an aircraft shows up in Paris or Farnborough makes one lick of difference in any sale.


superraptor June 24, 2013 at 5:30 pm

well, we have nothing to show, very sad.


blight_ June 24, 2013 at 9:22 pm

Plenty to show, just come down to Washington or Fort Worth for it.


superraptor June 25, 2013 at 10:10 am

what, like idling F-16 units or not upgraded F-22s sidelined by the self-inflicted sequester manufactured by the GOP and the President?
There will not be any military aircraft in Oshkosh this year because of the sequester. How will we inspire our kids to become military pilots?
Say hello to America the weak.


blight_ June 25, 2013 at 10:31 am

Whether or not the US government keeps on going, LM and Boeing seem to still be receiving orders for aircraft…

Kurt Montandon June 26, 2013 at 3:20 pm

Is … is inspiring kids to become military pilots actually a thing? Because I don't think it is.

Steph June 25, 2013 at 12:56 am

Air shows are just for image to the public, if the people buying hardware at this level don't know whats on offer then they probably don't have the spending power ..
And the millitary machine sales force need a good spanking, and sent back to being a car dealer..
If I was selling MH-60's I get the buyer and give him a really interesting time..


Bruce June 25, 2013 at 8:22 pm

Most air shows are built around a trade show in the lead-up. For example the Avalon Air-Show is a closed to the public trade show from Monday morning to Friday afternoon, then on Friday afternoon it turns into a public airshow for the weekend before everyone packs up. The flying displays are generally better during the public times but the actual content and access to theaircraft is much better during the trade show.


The b2 June 25, 2013 at 3:10 am



hibeam June 25, 2013 at 9:01 am

You did not mention the Chinese versions of American aircraft that flew.


Cougar June 25, 2013 at 3:27 pm
Michael852 June 27, 2013 at 3:36 pm

The lack of a US presents at the air show was a big mistake. Budget problems are just a ploy. The manufactures probably come up with the expense money at a last resort to get their weirs on displayed.


Dfens June 27, 2013 at 11:16 pm

The US defense corporations are the big winners of the "recession". They continue to make record profits year after year. Isn't it great to get paid for failure? The more they screw up, the more they drag things out, the more money they make. Ta Da! They've found the magic formula for success in a tough economy. Too bad the US taxpayer doesn't put an end to their game, but the US taxpayer is their cash pinata and always will be. When a company can make money designing a weapon, why ever build it? Why ever fly a military airplane when you can make money designing it? Whack! Whack, whack! More money sprays from the US taxpayer.


blight_ June 24, 2013 at 9:22 pm

Makes me wonder if they should've spun off an "export capability" version and then built out the shinier America-version as upgrades.


JCross June 25, 2013 at 5:15 am

Due to the focus on purchasing the F-35, both the F-15 and F-16 have better versions offered for export than the USAF has.

The USAF has the Block 50/52 F-16 as it's best, and only a small number of them, while the Block 60 is open for export. The F-15 has the -K/S/SG improvements, with the -SE in development for South Korea.

Export money has actually overtaken the USAF in development of non-F35 fighters now.


blight_ June 25, 2013 at 6:32 am

Correct. But I wonder if leaving out some systems like we will for export would've gotten a JSF out the door earlier. Though I think that the export version actually is the exact same vehicle but with different /software/, meaning the development time for export and US versions should be about the same.


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