Military dominates at 'aerospace' show

Wednesday, August 5, 1992

By Felicity Ruby

Stall 117 at Aidex housed the Aerospace Foundation, advertising "The Essential Asia-Pacific Aerospace Event ... to reinforce Australia's place as the centre of Aerospace research and development design and production".

Aerospace '92 will be held at Avalon airport, 40 km from Melbourne, October 21-25, with more than 100 companies (19 of which attended Aidex) from 11 countries.

The Aerospace Foundation has been advertising since January and has just stepped up its media campaign with TV, billboard and press advertising. Schools are being supplied with glossy information packs enticing children to learn about war and be one of the 300,000 expected public visitors. Gold pass stadium seats for the six-hour air show are on sale at $95.

The display will be the biggest air show held in the southern hemisphere, costing over $5 million to stage. The Victorian government is contributing $1.5 million to these costs.

Simultaneously with the air show, conferences will be held on subjects like aviation law, aircraft security, business aircraft and Aerospace Asia. The Air Crash Liability Conference will be topical considering that 47 were killed and 500 injured at an air show disaster at a US base in Germany.

Although civil aviation and other organisations will display at the show, it is 70-80% military based. In a press release, Air Shows Down Under (a front of the Aerospace Foundation) states that it has "already invited participants from a wide range of military air arms from around the world".

The Indonesian Air Force will demonstrate the locally built CN235 turboprop freighter, the USA will display the smallest jet as well as the largest fighter, New Zealand will show its air-to-air refuelling Skyhawk jets and is also bringing an aerobatic team.

A re-enactment of a Battle of Britain dog fight with an authentic German Messerschmitt 109 and a Royal Air Force Spitfire will make light entertainment out of what was gross carnage.

Revulsion regarding the arms industry grows from the realisation that it contributes to an overwhelming misery. Governments use a large proportion of weapons not for defence but for the subjugation of people in their own or neighbouring countries. The presence of human rights abusers at Aerospace continues the Australian tradition of maintaining a politically expedient blindness while training and arming some of the worst offenders.

Defence export applications approved by the government in 1990-91 ,325, Chile $53,082, Bangladesh $85,000, Burma $24,000, Fiji $30,766, Ireland $83,387, Pakistan $36,005,277, Japan $973,200, Philippines $334,901, PNG $2,064,489, Singapore $3,086,656, Thailand $1,592,677, UK $11,103,238, USA $59,990,094 and the US Philippines bases $2,469,262.

Military spending also wastes resources, interfering with social justice goals. The Australian government spends $1.6 million a day on aerospace equipment and maintenance.

Militarism also needs gender stereotypes. Although women are being encouraged into the forces, combat serves as a test of masculinity and basic training is the breaking and building of "real men" who kill. Ian Honnery, the chief executive of Air Shows Down Under, said in a speech recently, "Afterwards you can ask did the sky move for you too". Power and violence become an erotic fantasy.

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