The eighth international air show MAKS 2009 opens in Zhukovsky near Moscow on Tuesday. The show, popular amongst specialists and spectators alike, will provide a lot of pageantry despite the crisis.

Both military and civilian aircraft, including the latest French fighter jet Rafale, will take to the skies from the airfield of the Gromov Flight Research Institute. Flying aerobatic teams — Russia’s Swifts, Russian Knights and Falcons of Russia, the Frecce Tricolori from Italy and the French Patrouille de France — will show their skills. In addition to the latest aircraft and helicopters, restored or rebuilt World War II models will also fly.

Most flights, however, will take place on the opening day, August 18, and during the last three days of the show — from August 21 to 23. On August 19 and 20, the so-called “business days,” flying will be performed only from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

The hit of the show will be a large Russian Air Force contract for the purchase of combat planes, expected to be signed in the first days of the event.

The value of the contract stands at $3 billion and will cover 48 Su-35BM fighter jets, 4 Su-30M2 fighter jets and 12 Su-27SM fighter jets. The Su-35BMs and Su-30M2s are being produced for the first time and their deliveries will continue through 2015, while the Su-27SM is an upgrade of the basic model Su-27.

The upgrading of Su aircraft began in 2006. Currently, the Air Force has two air regiments (48 aircraft), equipped with upgraded fighters. Purchases of this type of aircraft will continue.

The Su-35BM, which is the latest state-of-the-art product of Sukhoi Company, will be demonstrated in flight for the first time. At the previous show, it was on static display. This airplane, similar to the basic Su-27, carries the latest onboard electronic equipment, and is powered by high-thrust and long-life engines, with the capacity to be armed with the most up-to-date weapons.

Civilian airliner

Russians will also see for the first time a civilian airliner, the Sukhoi Superjet, in flight. At the Paris show in Le Bourget in 2009, it was the main premiere. This short-haul airliner, a cooperative product of several countries, is to start service on international routes at the end of the year. More than 120 of them have already been ordered, while Sukhoi Civilian Aircraft expects to sell no less than 1,000.

At the same time, however, the fifth-generation fighter, being developed under the (PAK FA) Advanced Tactical Frontline Fighter programme, will not be shown. It is expected to make its maiden flight in the fall of this year. Instead, MAKS organizers will demonstrate a forerunner, which served as a flying laboratory and a “technology test bed” for the 5G plane: the Su-47 Berkut fighter jet with a forward-swept wing, built in the 1990s.

The show will also feature other aerospace products: unmanned aerial vehicles, helicopters, missiles of different types, air defense systems, and components - from navigation systems to engines. More than 700 companies from 34 countries will display their wares at the show.

The show is not expected to beat records of attendance or sales - the global economic crisis has hit the aerospace industry badly, and it is at a low ebb in all countries now. Knowing this, however, is unlikely to prevent visitors from feeling the delight at the wonderful Moscow international air show. — RIA Novosti

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