Organizations, businesses and military forces from across the globe gathered in Farnborough, England, to celebrate 100 years of aviation at the Farnborough International Air Show, or FIA,†July 14 -20.
FIA is a biennial international trade show for the aerospace industry to demonstrate the latest in both civilian and military aircraft capabilities.
“Farnborough gives us the opportunity to showcase our military personnel, aircraft, and technology with our allies,” said Col. Todd Pavich, the U.S. Air Forces in Europe, FIA air boss. “The aircraft we have on display demonstrate our capability to accomplish the missions we may be called upon to execute.”
The U.S. military has participated in FIA since its inception. This year, units from bases across Europe and the U.S. again came together in the Department of Defense corral, showcasing the aircraft and personnel critical to maintaining operational readiness, and demonstrating the U.S.’s readiness to meet the full range of 21st-century challenges.
“In the U.S. DOD corral we have an Army UH-60, an F-18 and P-8 from the Navy, and an F-15E†and two F-16 from the Air Force,” Pavich said. “We have established a team here; everyone has the same agenda – to tell visitors about our military and our aircraft.”
Service members took time at the airshow to connect with both military and industry partners.
“The airshow gives us the opportunity to increase America’s warfighting capability. We do this by learning about what our partner forces bring to the fight,” said Maj. Jared Shackleford, a 480th Fighter Squadron F-16 Fighting Falcon pilot. ìSo, when we are called upon, our overall tactical effectiveness will be unmatched by any enemy force.
Several key U.S. government representatives and DOD leaders participated in FIA as well, communicating America’s continuous commitment to security and promoting international cooperation.
Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James and U.S. Ambassador to the U.K. Matthew Barzun kicked off FIA with a ribbon cutting ceremony at the U.S. pavilion, before paying a visit to the aircraft corral. Other distinguished U.S. visitors included: Undersecretary of Defense for Acquisition, Technology and Logistics Frank Kendall, USAFE Commander Gen. Frank Gorenc and Defense Security Cooperation Agency Director Vice Admiral Joseph Rixey.
Military participants spent the rest of the week engaging in dialogue with industry partners in interested in the DOD aviation capabilities.
“The industry leaders are the ones who provide us with the tools to accomplish our job,” Shackleford said. “It’s important we provide them with input and feedback, so they can continue to supply us with the world’s best warfighting machines.”
The trade show concluded with the International Rocketry Challenge, where high school-aged students from Japan, France, the U.S. and the U.K. gathered to compete for an international title.
Before the event, the students were welcomed into the DOD corral and given the opportunity to ask the aircrew and maintainers questions about their respective airframes.
“It was nice to see innovation and knowledge is still huge, not only in America, but around the world,” Meyers said. “It’s amazing knowing these young aerospace leaders are going to be a part of the aerospace industry in the future. We enjoying being able to show them where their career paths can take them (in the military).”
The military members showed support for these future leaders in full force by attending the challenge and cheering for their favorite teams.
“It was great to see them perform,” Shackleford said. “We are interested in their education; the support we show them proves we want to encourage them not only now, but in the future.”
On Saturday, FIA was opened to the public. Visitors from all over the world were welcomed into the corral, and encouraged to get a closer look at the aircraft displays. This gave participating service members a chance to introduce their respective aircraft aviation enthusiasts of all ages.
“It’s great to engage with people who are just as passionate about aviation as we are,” Pavich said. “Several people have thanked me for letting them get up close to see and touch the aircraft. It’s a privilege to share this with the public, and our team here has really enjoyed the opportunity and experience.”
U.S. participation in the international event concluded with the close of Farnborough International Airshow on Sunday. Soldiers, sailors and airmen alike returned to their home bases, with sights already set on FIA 2016.
“It is important for people to understand the U.S. capabilities and why we are here in Europe,” said Capt. Thomas Meyer, a 494th Fighter Squadron instructor pilot. “We are forward, ready, now; we are here to support our NATO allies, bolster our partnerships, and continue to do so throughout the future.”