Eurofighter Typhoon large outdoor poster captioned Effective, proven, trusted. Flats behind include German, Spain, Italy UK

Farnborough International

Farnborough International is best known for its airshow but its main purpose is the combined arms fair and civil aerospace exhibition. Weapons are marketed to international delegations from around the world.

Last updated 2 February 2021

Farnborough International is best known for its airshow, but its main purpose is the combined arms fair and civil aerospace exhibition. Weapons are marketed to international delegations from around the world.

The family-friendly Airshow and ‘Futures Day’ (career events for young people) give weapons manufacturers a unique PR opportunity.

Farnborough International is held at Farnborough Airfield in Hampshire.  It is run by Farnborough International Ltd, a subsidiary company owned by the arms industry’s trade body, ADS.

It takes place every two years, alternating years with the DSEI arms fair in London. Farnborough International last took place in July 2020. For the first time it was an online event, due to the COVID pandemic. It is expected to return in 2022.

Military delegations

The government’s arms sales unit (UK Defence & Security Exports, DSE) plays a major role in organising Farnborough International, not least by inviting official delegations. In 2018, it reported that delegations from 45 countries had attended, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE despite the devastating consequences of their attacks on Yemen.

DSE provides chaperones for the delegations, as well as arranging private meetings with companies.

Arms companies

There were over 1,500 exhibitors at Farnborough 2018, including most of the world’s largest arms companies. They exhibited a range of weaponry that included combat aircraft, missile systems, armoured vehicles and drones.

Major arms companies that were present included BAE Systems, Raytheon, Lockeed Martin and Elbit. They presented equipment from across their aerospace and military portfolios.

The full exhibitor list is available on the Farnborough International website.

War Starts Here

Farnborough International is where some of the world's largest arms dealers meet military delegations from around the world. Visitors include Saudi Arabia, which is bombing Yemen.

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Views from inside the arms fair

Elbit stand at Farnborough 2014

Let’s talk about ‘legitimacy’, Science Museum

The Science Museum justified its plans to host a ‘welcome reception’ for arms dealers from Farnborough International by telling us that Farnborough International was a ‘legitimate organisation’. So I went to Farnborough this week and saw what ‘legitimate’ looks like.

Eurofighter display

A day at Farnborough arms fair

Despite its family-friendly weekend airshow that attracts around 100,000 visitors, when I visited Farnborough the order of the day was definitely business. The train was packed with suits discussing business deals and their schedules for the day. Although many of the delegates would have been engaged in civil aviation, there is a very large military

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