Lockheed had brought three UAVs to display the future of air warfare but these were ignored by the majority of the public who were mainly interested in the fast jets and the Superjumbo. Next down in the static aircraft display was a PB5Y Catalina. Interesting as this aircraft was, it had already buzzed my house at some unearthly time that morning on its trip down from Duxford so was already deemed not my favorite aircraft! Saab’s beautiful Gripen was next. It seems surprising that a country as small as Sweden can produce a 5th generation fighter of comparable performance to the Eurofighter, F-22 and Rafael in less time and costing far less. A mighty C17 formed the centerpiece of the US Department of Defense’s contribution with an F-16C, FA-18C, F-15E and F-15C providing the firepower while a UH60 and a C130J helped the C17 demonstrate the US military’s logistical capabilities.
The RAF’s display was rather more muted than last time. One of the main reasons for this could have been the fact that two of the aircraft have now been retired (the Jaguar and Sea Harrier) and their replacements are not likely to be available for some time yet. (The Eurofighter is just entering service but is not likely to have the Jaguar’s ground attack capabilities until the Phase 2 variants are introduced in two to four years while the Sea Harrier’s replacement, the Joint Strike Fighter, is said not to begin deliveries until 2011. Until then Britain’s aircraft carriers are going to use RAF Harrier GR7s — aircraft not designed for defense of the fleet and with limited air to air capability and no air to air radar — a shoddy state of affairs.) A SA330 Puma, Sea King search and rescue helicopter and Tornado GR4 were joined by a Tucano and Hawk.
Examples of what Britain used to be able to provide were further down the flightline in the form of a Jet Provost, Hawker Hunter and Hawker Sea Hawk. A little further down the Vulcan Restoration Fnd had a stand and it is hoped that they will be able to bring Vulcan XH558 along for a flying demonstration by the time the next Farnborough roles around in 2008.
Heading towards the end of the static display an MD Super 80 provided the backdrop to a pair on Antonov An140s as well as a brace of Dassault Falcons and a little TBM850. Finally an immaculate Legacy 600 was flanked by a Brazilian Embraer 190 passenger aircraft and the grandstand directly behind where we took our seats and waited for the flying display to begin.