The biggest air show in the world, the Paris Air Show, opened on Thursday (29 May) against a background of economic recession.
The biggest air show in the world, the Paris Air Show, opened on Thursday (29 May) against a background of economic recession. For the first time in 20 years there was a drop in entries - more than fifty less than the previous show.
The star attractions were the two arch rivals for the arms deal of the century - the French Mirage F-1 and the United States General Dynamics YF-16. Both are battling to land a 360-plane contract to replace the obsolete starfighters of four NATO countries - Denmark, Holland, Belgium and Norway.
Another top attraction is the Soviet Tupolev Supersonic Airliner making its first appearance in the West since a prototype model crashed during the Paris Air Show two years ago. The TU-144 stood on the tarmac near its Franco-British rival, the Concorde, which goes into commercial service at the beginning of next year.
Despite higher fuel prices and serious inflationary trends, the show still remains the world's largest with Defence Ministers and Service Chiefs probing for contracts worth millions to their aerospace industries.
The number of countries taking part has declined by two to 19 but one new country - New Zealand - is showing. New Zealand is displaying its CT-4 trainer aircraft used by the Australian, New Zealand and Thailand Air Forces, as well as its FU 24 Fletcher agricultural sprayer aircraft.
The show was opened by French President Valery Giscard d'Estaing. Visitors to the 31st air show included Israeli Defence Minister Shimon Peres and Egyptian Vice President, Air Marshall Hosni Mubarak."