F-35 heading to Paris Air Show after all

F-35 heading to Paris Air Show after all
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The Air Force’s F-35A fighter jet will fly at the Paris Air Show in June, despite earlier statements from the F-35 Joint Program Office that the Lockheed Martin-made aircraft would not be at the event. 

“The F-35A strengthens partnerships and improves regional stability,” Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. David Goldfein said in a May 6 press release announcing the news. “We welcome the opportunity to further demonstrate the revolutionary capabilities of this aircraft.” 

The statement added that 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.”

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A spokesman for the F-35 Joint Program Office told Defense News and several other news outlets in April that the Air Force and Marine Corps had not been invited to bring the F-35 to the event, held at Le Bourget Airport.

But officials from SIAE — the French aerospace organization that runs the Paris Air Show — have insisted they had been pushing to get the United States to send the F-35.

The Air Force already has eight F-35A aircraft in Europe for its first major overseas training deployment, which began in April. It has not been decided whether the F-35As will stay in Europe until the show or return to the United States first, according to an Air Force spokeswoman.

The Paris Air Show and the Farnborough International Airshow in the U.K. are the two largest airshows in Europe, held in alternating years. The host nation invites participants for flight demonstrations. 

The decision is a win for Lockheed Martin. The world’s largest defense contractor hopes to sell the fighter jet to Belgium, Finland, Switzerland and Spain, and an air-show demonstration is a prime way to market the aircraft.

The Aerospace Industries Association applauded the decision to send the F-35 to the air show following the Air Force’s announcement.  

“International air shows provide the U.S. aerospace and defense industry with an important opportunity to showcase American manufacturing preeminence bolstered by critical international partnerships to create the unmatched technology of systems like the F-35,” the group said.