After a Complete U.S. Airshow Ban in 2013, DoD Finally Supports an Airshow…in Dubai

  • Nov 19, 2013 10:43am GMT

The only location available to view American military aircraft on display in the air and on the ground is taking place this week at the Dubai Airshow, located in the United Arab Emirates.

As the United States government implemented budget cuts to many federal programs in 2013, one of the sectors hardest hit was the airshow industry. Airshows at military and civilian airfields across the United States have been a long-standing tradition since the dawn of flight.

Canceled in 2013 were the performances by the US Navy Blue Angels and US Air Force Thunderbirds. Also canceled were flyovers of military aircraft at major sporting events in the United States such as NASCAR, baseball and football games. Military aircraft were also prohibited from being parked on static display at airshows and airport events nationwide. Even cherished American institutions such as the United States Naval Academy and United States Air Force Academy had to cancel graduation flyovers from the Blue Angels and Thunderbirds.

The airshow lineup includes new military aircraft that are being sold and marketed to foreign allies, such as the MV-22 Osprey, F/A-18E/F Super Hornet and P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft, as well as aircraft such as the B-1B Lancer bomber and F-22 Raptor fighter. Production of the B-1B concluded in 1988 and 2011 for the F-22 – and neither aircraft had been exported to foreign nations.

The Dubai Airshow is the largest trade airshow in the Middle East region. The show started with record sales of hundreds of commercial airliners to Gulf airlines such as Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways. Global manufacturers have a major trade presence at the airshow in hopes of selling civilian and military wares to foreign nations.

The Department of Defense has announced that military support of airshows will resume in 2014 with performances by the US Navy Blue Angels and US Air Force Thunderbirds. Guidance has not been provided, however, for areas including military flyovers, static display and funding for military bases to host airshows. Two major military airshows, Andrews AFB Joint Service Open House in Washington, DC and the March Air Reserve Base in Los Angeles, have already canceled their 2014 airshows because of this lack of funding guidance.

“The 2013 air show season was the most difficult for our industry in a generation,” says John Cudahy, president of the International Council of Air Shows. “The return of the U.S. military jet teams in 2014 is very encouraging. We hope that the Pentagon will announce soon that they are restoring other military support, including single-ship fighter demonstrations, open houses at military bases throughout the country, and static display support for both civilian and military air shows in the U.S.”