The seventh edition of the biannual aviation and aerospace industry showcase,Aero India 2009,got underway in Bangalore on Wednesday against the backdrop of India emerging as a key defence spender in a recession ridden economic environment. The air show has been provided unprecedented security with increased surveillance and physical presence of security guards.
While the $10 billion Multi Role Combat Aircraft deal hangs as the biggest business proposition out of India for the second successive Aero India event,the seventh edition also happens as foreign industries look to scale-up integration into Indian defence production on account of the defence offsets policy.
In the light of the 26/11 terror attacks at Mumbai,foreign participants are looking at business involving the modernisation of equipment for combating terror.
At the inaugural ceremony on Wednesday,Defence Minister A K Antony said India is looking to scale-up defence expenditure,despite economic recession. “There is no question of scaling down our defence expenditure or compromising on our ongoing acquisition programme. India is presently among the fastest expanding aerospace markets in the world,” he said. “The Aero India 2009 will showcase India’s emergence as an attractive market and a key outsourcing hub for global aerospace firms. It fulfils all the prerequisites — low cost,skilled engineers,good organisations,software,and technology expertise,” he added.
As many as 11 foreign fighter jets — five F-16s,three Eurofughter Typhoons,two F-18 Super Hornets,and a MiG-35 — all of whom are in contention for the Indian MRCA deal are in participation here. Missing,however,are SAAB Gripen and Dassault Rafale. A Swedish Air Force official indicated that the Gripen did not make the trip since it is expected to be here for the MRCA trials,scheduled later this year.
Olympic gold medallist Abhinav Bindra is expected to fly in an F-16IN as one of the key promotional events at the show on the lines of a similar feat by Ratan Tata at the previous edition.
“Technical evaluation is going on and after that the trials will be conducted in hot regions and cold regions,” Defence Production Secretary Pradeep Kumar said here on Tuesday.
A Chinese delegation is officially participating in the event for the first time. A US business delegation is expected to push modern equipment for combating terrorism.
Among Indian industries,the public sector Hindustan Aeronautics Limited is slated to officially handover five Advanced Light Helicopters to the Ecuador Government.
The largest contingents for the event have come from Germany and Italy,each bringing 31 companies for the show. The US,UK,Russia and Israel are among the other important participating this year. Other foreign aircraft on display will be the transport aircraft C-130J,C-17,An-12 Cargo apart from the A-310 passenger aircraft.