Defence spending takes centre stage at the Farnborough Airshow as the star of the show - the new F-35 fighter aircraft - takes to the skies. Ivor Bennett reports.
It's not hard to see what the star attraction is at this year's Farnborough air show. Two years after it was supposed to make its debut, the F35 is finally here. And it seems it's worth the wait. "It's one of the most powerful planes ever made, one of the most technologically advanced, but also one of the most expensive" At over 100 million dollars a jet, it is the Pentagon's costliest arms programme. But then again, not every plane can do this. (SOUNDBITE) (English) LOCKHEED MARTIN, DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS, MIKE REIN, SAYING: "They've said they're driving down costs and by the end of the decade an F35 will be as cheap as an older generation fighter but with all this modern new capability." The UK government certainly seems to agree. It's said it'll buy 48 jumpjets by 2023, before expanding to an eventual fleet of 138. The special relationship clearly still special despite Brexit. (SOUNDBITE) (English) LOCKHEED MARTIN, DIRECTOR OF COMMUNICATIONS, MIKE REIN, SAYING: "We've been a long standing partner before the European Union. The United States and the UK were partners going back to World War I, World War II so that is not going to change." The show of solidarity is not just for the UK. The US Air Force Chief of Staff said last week the display flights are meant as a signal of NATO's intent in the region. And it will play well home too given the project's delays and budget problems. (SOUNDBITE) (English) TEAL GROUP, PRESIDENT, RICHARD ABOULAFIA, SAYING: "The F-35 showing up at the airshow is certainly good news. If nothing else for the politicians and air chiefs who selected the type and were waiting for some good news to show to the folks back home it provides a level of political cover for their decision." And judging by this level of attention, it may not be long before the project pays off. Belgium and Finland among the next customers Lockheed are targeting.