Dubai Airshow 2023

Dubai Airshow 2023

Report and photos by Łukasz Lipka

March 18, 2024

The 18th edition of the Dubai Airshow, held from November 13th to 17th, 2023, was touted by organizers as the most significant and successful to date, and the numbers released post-event certainly support that claim. With over 1400 exhibitors representing 98 countries, a lineup of 350+ distinguished international speakers, 90+ innovative start-ups, and 20 impressive country pavilions, the event showcased a remarkable array of industry players. Notably, the exhibition featured 192 aircraft in both static displays and flying exhibitions, captivating attendees with aviation and cutting-edge technology. With a total attendance exceeding 135,000 people over a few days, and an order book surpassing $101 billion, the Dubai Airshow solidified its position as a premier global aviation event, fostering innovation, collaboration, and investment within the industry.

Pakistan Air Force PAC/Chengdu JF-17 Thunder Block III was part of a static display, making the first international air show appearance of the variant, while its previous version Block II was presented in the air.

The static park was fully packed with a variety of aircraft both civilian and military from around the globe. United Arab Emirates Armed Forces showcased a variety of aircraft from their inventory such as Mirage 2000-9, F-16F Block 60, AH-64D Apache, CASA CN-235 and CH-47F Chinook. Apart from the host nation, a significant addition to the static display was provided by the United States Armed Forces, in the form of KC-46A, A-10C Thunderbolt II and two C-130J Hercules, among others.

Other notable participants included the Indian HAL Tejas, French Dassault Rafale, Pakistani JF-17 Thunder Block III, and Eurofighter Typhoon from the Kuwait Air Force, as well as Russian aircraft like the Mi-171A3, Ka-52E, and Il-76MD-90A.

Civilian part of the static display was dominated by large airliners.

In the civilian section, the exhibition was dominated by large airliners and cargo jets from Boeing and Airbus, featuring models such as the Boeing 777X, Boeing 787 Dreamliner, Airbus A380, and Airbus A350, among others. Business and corporate jets also made a prominent appearance, including the Boeing BBJ, Embraer Legacy 650, and Gulfstream G700, among others.

An intriguing aspect of the exhibition was the presence of various weapons, indigenously made by the Edge Group, such as the Al Tariq precision-guided munitions systems. These weapons were showcased alongside various jets like the French Rafale and Indian Tejas, demonstrating the potential for integration of these weapons into diverse platforms, further emphasizing the advancements and capabilities within the aerospace industry of the host nation.

Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS) made a notable impact at the exhibition, underscoring the increasing prominence of this technology within the aerospace industry, reflecting their versatility and potential across various sectors. Notably, EDGE Group, the company headquartered in Abu Dhabi, had one of the largest areas in the exhibition hall, showcasing their developments such as REACH-M, Medium Altitude Long-Endurance UCAV, designed for ISR and light ground attack operations.

In addition to the spectacular static and flying displays, the Dubai Airshow also served as a platform for thought leadership, hosting a series of conferences over five days. These conferences delved into various aspects of the aerospace industry, covering the entire spectrum of topics ranging from air traffic management and passenger experience to advanced aerial mobility, space, sustainability, and beyond.

PLAAF August 1st / Ba Yi display team, flying the Chengdu J-10C, were among the 5 display teams that performed at Dubai Airshow 2023

The flying display program at the Dubai Airshow offered a diverse range of aerial spectacles, with each day featuring its own unique highlights. However, the opening day stood out with a particularly impressive flypast that captivated attendees. The opening flypast commenced with a formation of helicopters and propeller aircraft from the UAE Air Force, setting the stage for the very unusual sight of the Al Fursan aerobatic team flying alongside Emirates A380, followed by other airliners from UAE and then another bunch of aircraft from the UAE Air Force, with thrilling ending provided by the Boeing C-17A Globemaster III releasing a huge amount of flares.

The display teams played a central role in the flying displays each day. Alongside the local Al Fursan aerobatic team, several international teams showcased their flying skills, enriching the event with their dazzling performances. The Italian Frecce Tricolori, Chinese August 1st, Russian Knights, and the Sarang Helicopter Display Team from India all brought their unique flair to the skies above Dubai, captivating audiences with their precision manoeuvres and synchronized formations.

Qatar Emiri Air Force Boeing F-15QA Ababil displayed by Boeing test pilots, was one of the highlights of the aerial display during Dubai Airshow 2023.

Although, not less impressive were other displays presented by soloists such as the well-known in the airshow world French Rafale Solo Display, USAF F-35A Lightning II Demo Team and PACAF F-16 Demo Team, which all were the fantastic addition to the flying program. However, probably the most interesting were displays of the jets that rarely appear at the airshows: the Indian Tejas, Chinese Hongdu L-15, Pakistani JF-17 Thunder and what was the highlight for many attendees – the Qatari Emiri Air Force Boeing F-15QA, flown by the Boeing flight test crew. Adding to the excitement, the UAE Air Force showcased their Mirage 2000-9 and F-16 fighters, rounding out an impressive lineup of aircraft at the event.

In addition, several helicopters graced the skies, including the Ka-52 from Russia and two helicopters from Korea Aerospace Industries: the KUH-1E and LAH. What’s more, on the opening day, the US Air Force showcased the formidable Rockwell B-1B Lancer, the backbone of its long-range bomber force, with a couple of flypasts. Another standout was the Calidus Bader B250, the only turboprop aircraft featured in the aerial displays, offering a glimpse of its flying capabilities.

In the civilian segment of the aerial displays, attention was drawn to the striking performances of the Boeing 777X and its Airbus counterpart, the A350, highlighting the innovation and excellence of both manufacturers in the commercial aviation sector.

Attendees at the Dubai Airshow 2023 were treated to breathtaking displays of state-of-the-art aircraft, groundbreaking technologies, and impactful business deals. The show’s success was evident through record-breaking attendance, providing invaluable networking opportunities. Following the success of Dubai Airshow 2023, the organizers are preparing for the next edition of the event which is scheduled for November 17-21, 2025.

Łukasz Lipka on EmailŁukasz Lipka on FlickrŁukasz Lipka on Instagram
Łukasz Lipka
Photojournalist at Aviation Photography Digest
Łukasz is an aviation enthusiast and photographer from Poland, currently living in England. He grew up near Radom Airport where the biggest Polish air show takes place, so he has been interested in aviation since the early stages of his life. He especially enjoys military aircraft but he also appreciates and is fascinated by everything that flies. At the beginning he was only watching planes. Since 2012, Łukasz has taken up aviation photography, which now is a very important part of his life. He is constantly looking to improve his skills as a photographer and photojournalist. Every year he visits military bases and air shows in the whole Europe and beyond. Łukasz uses Canon equipment.

Łukasz can be reached at: [email protected]
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