India, China, France, USA, Russia and Pakistan to display wares at Dubai Airshow

Although the official flying display line up is yet to be released, details of the flying display at this month’s Dubai Airshow are starting to emerge, with a number of established and developing powers set to show off their wares in the flying display.

Photo: David Bignell

This year’s show will feature at least three major jet aerobatic teams: the UAE’s Fursan al Emarat, flying seven MB-339As, Italy’s Frecce Tricolori, flying ten AT-339PANs, and China’s August 1st, flying a mixed fleet of six J-10SYs and far newer, 4.5 generation J-10CYs. It will be only the second overseas appearance for the J-10CY, with the trip seeming to validate reports that China is hoping to securing export deals for the jet in the region.

China has also dispatched a pair of L-15A Falcons to the show, with both airframes soon due to be delivered to the UAE Air Force. The UAE ordered 15 L-15s earlier this year, either to replace their mothballed Hawks or Fursan al Emarat’s MB-339As, which are due for replacement by the end of the decade.

For the second consecutive edition, the Dubai Airshow will see an extensive showcase of indiginous Indian airpower. The HAL Tejas Mk.1 will appear in the flying and static display, as will the Sarang Dispay Team, comprising four Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopters. In an airshow first, the Tejas will appear at the same airshow as one of Pakistan’s JF-17A Thunders – a Chinese low-cost fighter largely manufactured in domestically for the Pakistan Air Force. Until now, the two arch-rivals had actively avoided participating at the same airhsow. Additionally, Pakistan will also display a Super Mushak training aircraft – the Pakistani licence-built version of the Saab T-17 Supporter – in the flying display.

Two of the latest American combat aircraft will participate in the flying display: an F-15QA Ababil from the Qatar Emiri Air Force will be making its international debut, while the F-35A Lightning II is also expected to perform. Another western fighter, the Dassault Rafale, will also participate in the flying display, marking the UAE’s recent order of 80 F4 standard Rafales, due to be delivered from 2027.

Russia is also set to contribute at least two aircraft to the flying display: a modernised variant of the Ka-32 firefighting platform and an example of their Ka-52 Alligator battlefield helicopter. Some media reports also suggest that the Russian Knights will be in attendence with their Su-35S jets.

Aside from its national aerobatic team, the UAE Air Force is yet to confirm its contribution to the flying display. However, solo displays by the F-16E Desert Falcon and Mirage 2000-9 can probably be expected.

On the commercial side, the flying line up so far looks to be smaller than usual, with the Boeing 777X-9 being the only confirmed flying display participant. Since the previous Dubai Airshow, Airbus has stopped displaying the A350, and thus looks likely to participate only in the static display this year.

The Dubai Airshow claims that this year’s static display will be the largest in the show’s history, featuring upwards of 180 aircraft – mainly airliners and business jets. This will include such types as the A330neo, A380, several examples of the 737, 787, A320 and A350 families and a large assortment of business jets – including the debut of Gulfstream’s ultra-long range G700. Among the line up will be several special schemes: Embraer’s new E190 “Tech Shark” livery, Saudia’s 787-10 retrojet and the debut of Riyadh Air’s widebody brand identity on one of their new 787-9s.

On the military side, the static display is due to include the Typhoon FGR.4, Tejas Mk.1a, AH-64E Apache, KC-46A Pegasus, JF-17C Thunder Block-3, P-8A Poseidon, C-390 Millenium, Il-76 and Atlas C.1. Saab has also announced that it will showcase the GlobalEye and T-7A Redhawk, but it is not clear if the announcement refers to actual aircraft, or merely representation in the exhibition hall.

The Dubai Airshow will be held at Al Maktoum Airport on the 13th-17th November 2023.