Berlin, April 27 (TNS): The world’s longest-running air show has opened to aerospace industry officials and an estimated 150,000 visitors, who want to see the latest in aviation technology, including 3D-printing and electric planes.
Claiming to be the longest-running air show in the world, this year’s event hosts 1,100 exhibitors from over 40 countries, which showcase their latest innovations — among them conceptual designs for flying taxis, zero emissions aircraft and 3D-printed drones.
On second day of Air Show, German Defense Minister Ursula von der Leyen appeared at one of Germany’s biggest aerospace fairs alongside her French counterpart Florence Parly to sign a new military letter of intent between the two countries.
Backed by a line of elderly uniformed men sporting multicolored military decorations, von der Leyen and Parly exchanged signatures and smiles and spoke of the necessity of a “strong Europe” that would be able to protect its citizens.
The formal signing ceremony at the ILA exhibition, which saw the two ministers surrounded by combat helicopters and cruise missiles, was meant to display the ambition of the two countries’ military plans.
It is possibly not a coincidence that the signing took place the same week the leaders of the two countries visit Donald Trump in Washington. Chancellor Angela Merkel is likely to face demands from the US president that Germany increase its defense budget to the 2 percent of GDP stipulated by NATO — so the military signalling in Berlin could hardly be more timely.
According to the agreement signed by Parly and von der Leyen, Germany and France are planning to develop a new European fighter plane, as well as a new joint maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft system, and an air transport system. The two countries are also planning to work together with Italy and Spain to develop a European drone with long-range flight capabilities.
The two ministers appeared for a photo opportunity beside a prototype of this new “Eurodrone,” which is in the medium altitude long endurance (MALE) class, and is being built by a Franco-German-Italian alliance of companies: Airbus, Dassault Aviation, and Leonardo.