By Wg Cdr T.K. Singha, IAF PRO
Asia’s biggest aerospace exposition, Aero India-2011, got off to a flying start at Yelahanka air base in Bengaluru, on Feb 9. Defence Minister Shri AK Antony inaugurated the five-day event witnessed by a galaxy of officials, industry delegates, exhibitors and representatives from over 40 foreign countries. Aero-India 2011 showcases the latest international technology in the fields of military and civil aircraft, avionics and sub-systems, as well as radars in the defence and aerospace sector.
“This event will further enhance India’s emergence as an attractive market and a key outsourcing hub for global aerospace firms,” said Antony in his inaugural address. He stated that domestic and international firms in the aerospace and civil aviation sector will derive maximum benefit from the business potential displayed at the show.
“India has always been a votary of peace. Yet, violent disturbances in our immediate and extended neighbourhood pose security challenges for our nation and the region as a whole,” the Defence Minister said addressing the gathering comprising among others Ambassadors of several countries.
Reiterating Indian Government’s commitment to ensure rapid modernisation of the Armed Forces with state-of-the-art systems, equipment and platforms, Defence Minister stated that the defence expenditure, currently at 2.5% of GDP, will increase over the next two decades.
India’s aerospace sector has emerged as the fastest-growing one in the world. With Hindustan Aeronautics Limited having rich experience in the field, Antony said the entry of other major companies in the fray was a positive and an encouraging development. “We are open to joint ventures, public-private partnerships and licence production under transfer of technology for the all-round development of the aerospace industry,” he said.
“We have charted out a course to increase self-reliance in the defence sector by creating a strong industrial base in the country. The recently released Defence Production Policy spells out the blueprint of the roadmap that we intend to follow. We are encouraging our public and private sector industries to become active partners in this initiative,” said the Defence Minister urging leading international aerospace companies to form long-term partnerships with the Indian industry.
Assuring OEMs of better opportunities while building indigenous capabilities, Antony said fine-tuning of Defence Procurement Procedure through periodic reviews will make it transparent and efficient. “We have expanded the scope of existing Offset policy guidelines to include “civil aerospace”, “internal security” and “training” to include eligible products and services for the discharge of offset obligations” he stated.
Shri Antony also announced dates for the next edition of Aero India, to be held at Bengaluru, from February 6-10, 2013.
AIR DISPLAY THRILLS: With airshow integral to the ceremony, the display began with three Mi-8 helicopters trooping the national tricolour, IAF ensign and the Aero India flag.
A ‘Small Boy’ formation comprising one AN-32 and two Dornier aircraft flew next.
Two Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) aircraft made a pass at high speed thereafter. The IJTs are set to replace the Kiran aircraft currently being used for advanced stage training of IAF pilots.
These were followed by five-aircraft arrowhead formations of Jaguar and Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), Tejas. A trident formation of three Sukhoi-MKIs pulled-up into the sky trailing smoke in its wake describing a trident pattern as they disappeared in three directions.
Surya Kirans, the IAF’s nine-aircraft aerobatics team came up with a new trail-blazing act, emblazoning the sky with the letters IAF, by the smoke trail from their aircraft. With audiences mesmerized, the tone was set for the other signature manouevres such as Delta, Loops, Barrel Rolls and Bomb Burst.
A scintillating display of the recently inducted LCA Tejas flown by Gp Capt S Krishna was applauded by all. Tejas can carry almost sixty percent of its basic weight as ordinance, a feat unmatched by any modern aircraft. The seven ton, tail-less delta wing Tejas encompasses modern design concepts, quadruplex digital fly-by-wire control system, advanced digital glass cockpit and is multi-mission capable by day and night.
Audiences also witnessed breathtaking displays by four of the MMRCA contenders - Boeing’s F/A-18 Super Hornet, Dassault Aviation’s Rafale, SAAB Aviation’s Gripen and Eurofighter’s Typhoon. Although Lockheed Martin’s F-16 Super Viper is at the air show, it did not fly in the inaugural session. The sixth aircraft, Russian Mig-35 is not participating in this edition of Aero India.
Ever the show-stopper, the air display by a Sukhoi-30 MKI flown by Wg Cdr A Shrivastava and Wg Cdr Parag Lal, with their loop-tumble-yaw and tail-slide manoeuvre, high angle-of-attack, slow speed flight using thrust vectoring, drew large applause.
HAL’s Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) also made a debut this year in the air display. The LCH was flown by Wg Cdr Unnikrishnan Pillai.
The display was capped-off with a four-aircraft display by Sarang team in Dhruv ALH standing out in their distinct peacock scheme painting on their helicopters.
Among the dignitaries present at the inauguration included Karnataka Chief Minister Dr. BS Yeddyurappa, Minister of State for Defence Shri MM Pallam Raju, Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal PV Naik, Army Chief General VK Singh, Defence Secretary Shri Pradeep Kumar, Secretary Defence Production Shri RK Singh, DG CII Shri C Banerjee, Chairman HAL Shri Ashok Nayak, Chairman CII National Defence Council Shri Baba N Kalyani among others.