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
"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
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
"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.