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Aero India to miss its chief attraction combat aircraft

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NEW DELHI (PTI): Three aerobatic display teams are expected to be the main attraction for the biennial Aero India show starting February 6, which appears to be a scaled down affair with many a combat aircraft giving it a miss following finalisation of a multi-billion dollar IAF deal.

Addressing a press conference on the Aero India show, Secretary (Defence Production) R K Mathur claimed the ninth edition of the show in Banglaore was expected to be "bigger and better" than the previous ones.

Howver, ministry officials said the number of aircraft who have confirmed participation in the show is 52 this year so far while 63 aircraft had come in 2011. The number of companies who have booked space at the show is 607 while 675 took part in the last edition.

Asked which of the six medium multirole combat aircraft (MMRCA) aircraft, which have been main attractions of the aero show, are coming in this edition, Mathur said only the French Rafale and American F-16 have confirmed their participation till now.

The six aircraft including American F/A-18 and F-16, Russian MiG 35, Swede Saab Gripen, French Rafale and the European Eurofighter were regular at the last three editions of the show in view of the then multi-billion dollar tender for 126 aircraft by the IAF.

However, after the contract was bagged by Rafale, other aircraft were not expected to be at the show in this edition.

Mathur maintained the show is "not MMRCA centric". "The highlights of the show would include the participation of three aerobatic display teams including the Czech Red Bulls team, the Russian 'Russian Knight' team comprising the Su-27 combat aircraft and IAF's ALH Dhruv Sarang helicopter display team," he said.

The largest contingent at the show would be from the US with 67 of its companies participating followed by France, Russia and Israel.

Asked if China has confirmed its participation, Mathur said, "China has been invited for the show as a formal letter has been sent to them and we are awaiting their confirmation from them about their participation."

A total of 78 countries would be sending their representatives at the aero show of which 27 would be showcasing their products at the mega event.

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