ILA 2006


20 may 2006


Held between 16 and 21 May 2006, the Internationale Luft- und Raumfahrtausstellung, in Berlin-Schönefeld is one of the leading trade shows of it's kind. Originally, the ILA was held at Hannover-Langenhagen but following German reunification, the show moved to Berlin in 1992. Held every two years, it is heavily biased towards general and commercial aviation which falls beyond the scope of this site, however. This doesn't mean that the military side of aviation is totally ignored by it's organisers. Let's have look.


Of course, the various collaborative European programmes featured heavily in the shape of various helicopters as well as the pan-European Eurofighter. The German Armed Forces for instance, perhaps encouraged by their Dutch colleagues who do similar things at air shows, staged an air power demonstration featuring the Eurocopter EC.665 Tiger combat helicopter now finally entering service with both the French and German armies with export deliveries to Spain and Australia now also under way. The Tiger was shown to be a very nimble machine in addition to being remarkably narrow in frontal view. No doubt, it represents a very challenging target for any foe on the ground


One of the other multinational European helicopters is the NHI NH.90. A product of the industries of Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands, the type is being built in two principal variants. The helicopter to the left is of the TTH (Tactical Transport Helicopter) type which will supersede the ageing Bell UH-1D with the German Army. A navalised variant also being produced now is designated NFH (NATO Frigate Helicopter). Note the slab sided fuselage providing  a very spacious and unobstructed cabin. 

The NH.90 contrasts remarkably with the German Army's heavyweight, the Sikorsky CH-53G. Although close to 35 years old now, the CH-53 is nevertheless still of significance with 38 of the 112 machines delivered due to undergo a comprehensive modernisation programme, bringing them to CH-53GS standard. The helicopter depicted right is still in CH-53G standard.

Another European project finally making it into service is the Eurofighter Typhoon, also known as the EF.2000. This German Air Force jet is from Jagdgeschwader 73 "Steinhoff" from Laage near Rostock and flew it's display against a dramatic grey backdrop. The Typhoon is now also enjoying some export succes wit 18 having been sold to Austria some yaers ago. More recently, the Royal Saudi Air Force ordered 48 with an option for a total of 72.  

Originally known as the MiG.29OVT, the MiG.35 is the latest derivative of the Fulcrum. Thrust-vectoring nozzles give this variant even better manoeuvrability than the basic type already had. Even more, the nozzles can be moved up and down as well as to the left and right. Not even the F-22 can do this as on this American type the nozzles only move up and down!

The once huge US presence in Germany has greatly reduced since the end of the cold war. Nevertheless, the Americans did send a number of aircraft and helicopter types to Berlin. None of them participated in the flying display however. This view shows a US Army AH-64D Apache in front of a US Air Force C-17A Globemaster III, aptly named "Spirit of Berlin". 

Of special interest at ILA 2006 was this Messerschmidt Me 262 A/B-1c. The first jet fighter operational anywhere in the world, it first flew in 1942 with production aircraft reaching the front line in 1944. This machine here is none of those built for Germany however. It has been virtually reverse-engineered from a treasured museum exhibit and fitted with modern day engines from a Northrop F-5 as the original JUMO 004's were considered too primitive. It is one of a batch of five built by Classic Fighter Industries, Inc from Seatlle, WA, USA.

Despite the weather which turned quite rainy during the public day on Saturday 20 May, many will have enjoyed ILA 2006. Move on, ILA 2008!

All pictures (c) Hans Rolink