Already for some years the Dubai Airshow established itself as the major international airshow and the major aviation trade fair event in the Middle East. It also ranks easily on the same level amongst similar events worldwide, but remains a strong regional focus. Apart from seeing interesting aircraft, Dubai is of course also a nice and sunny place as a holiday destination in November – something that cannot be said necessarily of other places on the Northern hemisphere.
Where? Dubai World Central Airport / DWC, UAE
In previous years the Dubai Airshow was well known for massive orders by the big Gulf carriers, which used to be in the order of billions of Dollars, however on that front this year’s show was much more quiet.
Nevertheless the static display did not fail to impress. Since its last edition the Dubai Airshow moved to its new location at the Dubai World Central airport (DWC), with a dedicated, air-conditioned, exhibition hall and a huge apron, which can be solely used for the static display. The size of this dedicated airshow apron was hard to be estimated, but three A380s parked there along with a Boeing B787 and an Airbus A350 just dissappeard and did not seem to be so big at all, despite their huge wing area and a length and wingspan of nearly 80m.
Regarding the military participation at the Dubai Airshow 2015 the UAE Air Force was unfortunately the sole player being present from this part of the world. Hopes to see any assets from neighbouring countries were unfortunately not fulfilled, and also the UAEAF’s presence was limited in numbers and aircraft types. For the fast jets there was a MB339NAT of the national aerobatic team “Al Fursan”, an F-16E and a Mirage 2000-9 in the static Display.
The planned Hawk and PC-21 turboprop trainer unfortunately did not show up. But however, a large array of helicopters was present from armed Bell 412, CH-47 Chinooks and AH-64 Apaches up to a Super Puma of the UAE Navy. The array of aerial asets of this rather secretive Air Force is quite amazing! This also includes a rather new Airbus A330MRTT tanker aircraft, which already looked quite faded by the sun. Coming from the same manufacturer and closely parked to the A330MRTT was an Airbus A400M from the French Air Force.
The USAF and US Navy also showed up in large numbers, and sealed off at one end of the static display. Due to the strong involvement of the US in the region and the presence on differnent air bases all around Middle East place a large variety of aircraft showed up: C-130 Hercules, P-8 Poseidon, F-15E Strike Eagle and plenty of helicopters. Daily fly-bys by the B-1 bomber were also part of the flying display and the F-22 Rapter demo team presented the capabilities – or at least the public part thereof – in the air. All to show their strong commitment to support their Allies in the Middle East, and of course also to push the sales of different types of aircraft.
Regarding sales also the French Dassault Rafale and a British Eurofighter Typhoon participated in the flying display.
The UAE Air Force flew their F-16E and M2000-9 as a solo display as well as the Al Fursan national aerobatic team. It was clearly visible that the Al Fursan were trained and inspired by the Italian Frecce Tricolori, who were also present at Dubai this year.
The flying display furthermore included the Airbus A350, the Breitling Wingwalkers and the rather exotic Super Mushak trainer aircraft from Pakistan as well as the Sudanese Safat 02 light helicopter and Safat 03 fixed-wing aerobatic trainer aircraft.
Regarding great weather the Dubai Airshow 2015 fully lived up to its expectations on the first days, with a sandstorm and heavy rain towards the last two days, and the flying display was very diversified. Also for the UAE Air Force it was a safe bet to see some of their flying assets in the air. The dedicated showground offers excellent possibilities for the show, but it was a shame to see that the flying displays took place at such a far distance. And it will be interesting to see in the future how the show will develop at this place.
Dubai World Central (DWC) already plans a massive expansion into an airport with five parallel runways, and the additional traffic will for sure restrict airshow flying. But though building projects are pushed a lot in the UAE, the next show(s) will surely take place in the same organized style as they did this year. Room and money do not seem to be an issue…