International political and security developments are casting a shadow on this year’s Farnborough International Airshow. The U.S. and its allies are presenting strong fronts as they draw down forces in Afghanistan. But given the threat of new sanctions and unrest in Ukraine, the Russian military will not bring its aircraft to the show.

The U.K. kicks off the action early with the July 4 launch of the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carrier in Scotland, followed soon after by the international debut of the U.S.-made F-35 Joint Strike Fighter at the show-before-the-show—the Royal International Air Tattoo (RIAT) at RAF Fairford, England—and its subsequent showing at Farnborough.

In 2012, the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter took a backseat to the Eurofighter Typhoon, which the U.K. sought to showcase with an eye to international sales. The Russian Sukhoi Su-35 stole last year’s Paris air show with its flippy acrobatics. Now it is the Joint Strike Fighter’s turn in the limelight, beginning with the international debut of the F-35B short takeoff and vertical landing aircraft at RIAT, where the number of air chiefs has increased to 31 on news of the fighter’s arrival. The F-35’s seven demonstrations are expected to include a 15-min. routine with a short takeoff, high- and low-speed passes and hovering, although no vertical landing is planned (AW&ST June 23, p. 26).

Ten nations have already committed to the F-35 program, but several countries are still on the fence. The Canadian government, which has spent the last two years reviewing its options, appears likely to follow through on the F-35 purchase. Singapore, which is looking to replace its F-16 fleet down the road, sees the F-35 as a viable option. And Belgium recently issued a request for information to five foreign government agencies, including the U.S.’s Joint Strike Fighter Joint Program Office.

Still, some investment analysts are lukewarm about the show’s prospects for generating F-35 sales or defense deals that will move the market. 

The JSF will not be the only fighter at the show, as manufacturers court the demand for fighters across Europe, the Middle East and elsewhere in Asia. In the fray for buyers are the Saab Gripen NG, the Eurofighter Typhoon, Dassault’s Rafale and Boeing’s F/A-18 E/F Super Hornet. The U.S. Congress has pitched in to keep the Super Hornet production line alive for a portion of fiscal 2015, but investment analyst Pete Skibitski of Drexel Hamilton will be watching the show for any “meaningful order” on the international front that could extend production on Boeing’s behalf.

Along with the JSF, a healthy contingent of U.S. military officials will be at the show. Two years ago, many of them were prevented from traveling there as the U.S. scaled back defense spending and opted to concentrate on the nation’s war efforts. Members of the “Big Brass” contingent include Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James, Pentagon procurement chief Frank Kendall and Navy procurement chief Sean Stackley. Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark Welsh and Marine Corps Lt. Gen. Jon Davis, commandant for aviation, will be attending the Global Air Chiefs Conference and RIAT.

Money remains tight in the U.S. and Europe, and the trend of manufacturers looking for defense sales abroad is unabated. Airbus, for example, continues to target global sales for its A400M airlifter, which flew at last year’s Paris air show.

Textron will display its Scorpion, light attack intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance aircraft at RIAT and Farnborough. Since its first flight in December 2013, Scorpion has completed 41 test flights and flown for 77 hr.

Europe needs more air-to-air refueling capacity; it has 42 tankers of 10 different variants, says investment analyst Byron Callan of Capital Alpha Partners. To that end, Airbus and Boeing both have aircraft to offer. Asked last month about the tanker’s presence at Farnborough, Chris Chadwick, president of Boeing Defense, Space and Security told Aviation Week: “I would not go so far as to say it will be a big splash at Farnborough, but we are definitely focused on the international arena, because that is a big market for us.”

When it comes to the tanker, Boeing likely will focus this year on business development, laying the groundwork for future orders that probably will not materialize until after the U.S. Air Force receives its initial tranche of 18 tankers in 2017, Skibitski says.

A U.S. Air Force competition to buy at least 350 training aircraft, along with demand for value trainers in other global markets, means Farnborough will be a meeting place to discuss a number of platforms. Alenia’s M-346 Master will be on the flight line at Farnborough, though Korean Aerospace Industries T-50 and other aircraft also will be under consideration.

With test flights of the U.K.’s Taranis unmanned combat air vehicle (UCAV) underway, many will be watching for France and the U.K. to advance their partnership toward UCAV development by signing a memorandum of understanding at the show. The nations are pursuing a two-year study with BAE Systems and Dassault to decide whether to team up on a demonstration and development phase.

While budgets in the U.S. and Europe remain tight, the unrest in Ukraine is likely to drive defense spending higher in countries closer to Russia, including the Czech Republic, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Sweden, Turkey and Romania. 

With tension over the Ukraine and international sanctions aimed at Russia, no Russian military aircraft will be present. That represents a huge departure from last year’s Paris air show, where the Su-35 fighter and Kamov Ka-52 attack helicopter were stars of the flying display.

Russian Helicopters, the country’s merged rotorcraft manufacturer, says it will bring only scaled-down models for its stand. It is a part of Rostec, a state-owned corporation that controls a major portion of Russian defense and aerospace industrial assets. CEO Sergey Chemezov was one of the Russian senior officials affected by the Ukraine-related sanctions imposed by the U.S. in April. But the U.S. Treasury Department specified then that Rostec itself “has not been sanctioned.” In fact, the stands of Rostec and its subsidiaries will be a core of the Russian pavilion at Farnborough.

Nevertheless, some Rostec subsidiaries plan to limit their presence. Representative of KRET avionics concern told Aviation Week that the company will use Farnborough to promote its renewed brand rather than specific products. Russian radar specialist Fazotron-NIIR, now part of KRET, is not scheduled to display its radars.

However, another important Rostec aerospace asset—United Engines Corp. (UEC) confirmed it would be bringing a viable AI-222-25 turbojet engine that powers Yakovlev Yak-130 jet trainers. This engine was initially a joint project between Russian MMPP Salut and Ukraine’s Motor Sich companies. But following the government’s import substitution strategy the UEC is now ready to produce this powerplant without Ukrainian participation, according to a source in Russian industry. UEC also will exhibit one-third-scale models of its other products: the 117S engine for Su-35s, the SaM146 powerplant for SSJ 100s, and the future PD‑14 for new MS-21 narrowbody airliners. 

Tap the icon in the digital edition of AW&ST to see a video of defense developments to look for at the Farnborough air show, or go to AviationWeek.com/video