Dubai Air Show encourages partnership, compatible hardware
By Chief Master Sgt. Trish Freeland, U.S. Air Forces Central Command
/ Published November 24, 2009
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AFNS) -- More than 150 servicemembers participated in the 11th Dubai Air Show Nov. 15 through 19 here.
The Dubai Air Show is currently the third largest air show in the world and the U.S. has participated every year since the first show.
Sheikh Mohammad Bin Rashid, the ruler of Dubai; Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed, the ruler of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates; Gen. Norton Schwartz, the Air Force chief of staff; and Army Gen. David Petraeus, the commander of U.S. Central Command, were among the leaders who attended the opening ceremonies.
"This is a gathering of nations from this region and the world that come together to look at airplanes, talk about airpower and to gel some of their decision-making," said Lt. Gen. Mike Hostage, the commander of U.S. Air Forces Central Command. "I had a chance to meet my counterparts in the gulf, air chiefs and ministers of defense and answer questions about U.S. airpower."
In addition to discussing airpower, one of the primary reasons United States officials participate in the Dubai Air Show is to demonstrate a commitment to regional security in the gulf.
"Participation in this air show benefits our nation's strategic security interests," said Bruce Lemkin, the deputy undersecretary of the Air Force for international affairs.
A key security interest is that of interoperability between weapons systems. While the U.S. doesn't tell its coalition partners what kinds of aircraft to buy, it does encourage the use of the same or similar systems.
"If we operate the same equipment, the only thing left to work on is tactics, techniques and procedures," General Hostage said.
The F-22 Raptor made its first appearance in the Middle East on day one of the Dubai Air Show and delivered an encore performance at the show's close on day five.
"Whenever we have a new weapon system, we like to try it out in different environments. I'm looking forward to the results from us being here," said Col. Dirk Smith, the 1st Operations Group commander deployed from Langley Air Force Base, Va. "Just bringing the aircraft out here and displaying its capabilities stimulates conversations about interoperability and how to work together in the future."
Two years of planning went into the execution of this year's Dubai Air Show. Airmen, Sailors and Soldiers provided logistics, protection and maintenance support to the various U.S. aircraft on display and performing aerial demonstrations.
"These airframes are nothing without the men and woman who make them into airpower," General Hostage said. "Other nations can buy the same airplanes, but they will never have air capability like ours until they figure out how to replicate the wonderful men and woman who operate and maintain the aircraft."