Known as Persian Gulf Airshow, the Iran Airshow is an aeronautical exhibition and air show that takes place every two years on the island of Kish, in Iran and it is the most important event in the field of civil aviation in the country.
The airshow first dates back to 2002 when participated 11 foreign companies coming from France, Russia, the United Kingdom, Ukraine, Germany, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Slovakia, Holland, Italy and Pakistan. The second edition was held in 2005 when a hundred of Iranian and foreign companies made the air show five times greater than the 2002. Thanks to this remarkable success and also thanks to the repeal of the American sanctions precisely during the exhibition of 2005, it was decided to arrange another one in the following year. From 2006 onwards instead the exhibition has taken every two years, but the subsequent developments in the international field and the new American sanctions have drastically reduced the international participation.
This year it takes place under the international pressure and the unilateral sanctions, but it aims to strengthen the interaction among the organizations involved in the field of Iranian aviation and put on show the capacity of the national country in this sector. With these premises a large number of national companies (105), as well as some foreign companies (10), have taken part in the 9th Iran Kish Airshow. They are active in the field of aeronautics, aerospace, air transport and other related sectors, and together with academics show a wide range of products, systems and services for the civil and military sectors. Iran is actively concerned not only on the supply of airplanes and helicopters, but also on the import of technologies for the construction of aircraft. Since the release of high-tech components to finish with the technology and the production culture, competence of the representatives of the working sociability, knowledge of engineers. Practically all companies of the aeronautics industries belong to the state and are connected to the Minister of Defense.
Held from 26 to 29 November of this year at the Kish International Exhibition Centre, adjacent to the civil terminal of the airport, it was organized as usual by the Pars Kish Aero Exhibitions Co. and was supported by Kish Free Zone Organization. At the official opening ceremony of the exhibition a lots of authority, as the Minister of Defense and Armed Forces, the commander of the Air Force, the head of the Civil Aviation Authority, various CEOs of airlines in Iran, the head of the Organization for Cultural Heritage and Activities, the secretary of the Supreme Council for the Free Territories and many other officials in the air transport sector, were present.
Subsequently an international conference on aviation, in collaboration with the Aerospace Research Institutes and various professors of the aeronautical industry, was hold. The Exhibition Centre has offered one covered exhibition space of 21,000 square meters and was accessible from 09:30 a.m. until 14:00 in the afternoon, because then all participants and exhibitors transfered to the nearby exhibition area outside to participate and attend to the aerial performances that were held from 14:30 to 16:30, organized by the Islamic Republic of Iran Air Force (IRIAF). For this appointment was organised an area of static display of aircraft of 100,000 sqm that hosted several aircraft and helicopters in force to the aviation, army and navy of the Islamic Republic of Iran.
The Kish Airshow despite being on an island of a little more than 90 sq km, which has an estimated population of 26,000 units, still invokes a considerable amount of fans and common people that even just for curiosity want to attend this event. Even foreign participation in these latest editions is increasing considerably because this seems to be the only opportunity to see up close the military aircraft of the Iranian air force that never seen around the world. The opening of the Exhibition Centre was timely even though not all the exhibition stands were ready, as a strong and violent perturbation the previous day has certainly compromise the term of preparations, however after few hours everything was in order and it ran for this four days of appointments no stop.
Probably also for the static shows there were some delays due to the strong perturbation and some airplanes and helicopters postponed their arrival until the end of the first day of the exhibition do not disturb the smooth functioning of the air show. On the square of the static display and the working area the first morning there were only two Pilatus PC-7 B Turbo Trainer aircraft for basic training, four Embraer EMB-312 Tucano turboprop, for basic training but also for light attack, a Harbin Y-12- II, twin turboprop of Chinese production, a Lockheed C-130 Hercules, four-engined aircraft; for transport, three HESA Saeqeh “Lightning”, jet fighter mono or two-seater derived from American Northrop F-5 Tiger, and a long-awaited by the people who came from abroad Grumman F-14 AM Tomcat, famous US interceptor purchased in the 70s before the Iranian revolution and still today in service with the IRIAF.
During the morning it was able to attend the arrival of the Aerobatic Team from Latvia – Baltic Bees Jet Team, which with their Aero L-39 C Albatros landed to participate for the second consecutive time to the Kish Airshow. In the late afternoon, almost at sunset, just finished the evolutions of the aircraft already present in the airport and those coming from the bases on the mainland, more aircraft landed and placed in the static area. First the arrival of a Mil Mi-171 belonging to the Aerospace Force of the Army of the Guardians of the Islamic Revolution (AFAGIR) and subsequently an ASH-3D of the Islamic Republic of Iran Navy (IRINA). Last the arrival in formation, accompanied by a transport Ilyulshin IL-76, of the Russian Aerobatic team Strizhi (Swifts) equipped with Mikoyan-Gurevich Mig-29 and Mig-29 UB fulcrum.
On Tuesday morning it was able to attend the arrival of new aircraft, another Harbin Y-12, even it then put on the static show, and an Antonov AN-74, and both brought other staff and authority to the exhibition. As mentioned earlier in the afternoon it was the moment more expected to attend the evolutions in the air. The gates of the base were opened to the public at 2 pm and people could access the base to admire the static area. The program included the opening with the launch of a dozen paratroopers from Harbin Y-12-II and then, as soon as the last one touched the ground, began the various flybys of two Sukhoi Su -22 M-4, coming from outside and with a very particular camouflage in two tones of green and brown. These two planes are part of a large number of airplanes that Iran received in 1991 after the outbreak of the war USA-IRAQ when the Iraqi pilots had been given the order to desert and escape in a neighboring country in order to save the means which however have never been more returned.
Returning to the airshow, after the Sukhoi, three Embrear EMB-312 Tucano have taken off to perform various passages and crossings very close to each other and then it was the single display of the Pilatus PC-7 B Turbo Trainer, showing its talent of aerobatics. After the landing of the Pilatus, two HESA Saeqeh of IRIAF took off from the airport of Kish and they exhibited in pair in a very close formation in perfect style “Couteau Delta”, even though it was much more wide the radius of maneuver for a new passage. The characteristic that has surprised much of this plane, in addition to the power and manoeuvrability practically identical to Northorp F-5, was a characteristic whistling which warns the arrival of the aircraft before even hear the real noise of the engine and comparable to the most famous whistling of one Junkers Ju-87 Stuka swoop before bombardment.
Another relevant peculiarity of Saeqeh is that only Iran possesses this version, being precisely this nation to have made changes to the base frame, therefore only in Iran is possible to admire the 30 planes still efficient in the world, at least according to the data available to the public. Subsequently there was the flyby of other planes of the IRIAF, with some change every day of the show. On Monday the flypast consisted of three McDonnell Douglas F-4 D/E Phantom II and two Grumman F-14 AM Tomcat, which have made the first flyby together and the second one separated, before the three F-4 and then the two F-14. To these aircraft on Tuesday it has added a tanker and transport Boeing 707, while on Wednesday it was replaced by the greater tanker Boeing 747. After these flybys a Lockheed C-130 Hercules has made the launch with parachute of three wooden pallets simulating the supply of ground forces without landing. For last the audience enjoyed the evolutions of the aerobatic teams, first the Baltic Bees and then the Russians Swift, with a more hot light and the sun descending on the horizon. Apart from the strong perturbation on Sunday, ended on Monday morning, the weather has contributed to the success of the exhibition and gave sunny beautiful days the first two ones and with some clouds in the following ones.
Now is the time to sum up with the hope that all have been happy and satisfied with the work done while the appointment is now for 2020 with the 10th edition of Kish Airshow and with this beautiful and welcoming island, pearl of the Persian Gulf.
Text and photos: Mirco Bonato, Stefano Polato