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Mon, Jun 13, 2005


Paris Air Show Underway

It's A New Day For The US At Le Bourget.

Remember the last Paris Air Show in 2003? The US, sorely miffed at France over differences about the Iraq War, turned its back on the international extravaganza, becoming a virtual no-show when it came to military exhibits and performances.

Mon Dieu, what a difference two years can make.

Now, in an effort to smooth things over with the Chirac government, the US is proudly marching back onto the field, presenting a rather dazzling display of both military and civilian technology.

"The Paris Air Show is one of the premier international aerospace events," Commander Tom Carpenter, a Pentagon spokesman, told the New York Times. "We feel it is in US national interest to participate. It's an opportunity to show what we have and to see what new ideas are out there and what the new thinking is."

Whereas two years ago, no US military officer above the rank of colonel attended the air show, this year is a cavalcade of brass and stars. Senate Armed Services chief Ted Stevens (R-AK) will be there, leading a delegation of six powerful colleagues. NASA boss Michael Griffin is also headed for Paris, as are 125 US military flag officers.

Even some US states are sending delegations.

"The state of US-European relations is still not great," Brookings Institute military analyst Michael O'Hanlon told the Times. "But there is a recognition we all need and are stuck with each other and that we have common values, even if the recent history hasn't been so good."

US defense manufacturers are there as well -- Lockheed-Martin, for instance, sending 125 employees along with CEO Robert Stevens.

"Our goal is to demonstrate that Lockheed believes in the importance of a global industrial defense base, and we want to partner with companies that share our standards and vision," Lockheed spokesman Thomas Jurkowsky told the New York paper.

But if the US is determined to paint a rosy picture in Paris this year, it could be all for naught. The reason? The ongoing and bitter trade dispute over subsidies to Boeing and Airbus. That dispute, simmering for more than a year, has boiled up into the open with the US filing a complaint before a court of the World Trade Organization. The EU, representing Airbus, has made similar charges in trade court.



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