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India's biggest aerospace show sees large foreign presence

The three services aircrafts flying over the foreign fighter jets during the rehearsals for the Aero India 2009 at Air Force Station, Yelahanka in Bengaluru on February 08, 2009. PIB photo

NEW DELHI (PTI): Eyeing India's over USD 30 billion defence market, 592 global and Indian defence companies will showcase their aircraft and weapon systems at the seventh edition of Aero India starting in Bangalore from Wednesday.

Of these exhibitors from 25 countries, 303 are from overseas and 289 from home. The major participant countries include the US, Britain, France, Italy, Germany, Russia and Israel. This is the largest foreign and Indian participation at the show.

At the moment, India's long defence shopping list includes big ticket items such as the 126 multirole combat aircraft, 197 light utility helicopters, various reconnaissance aircraft and choppers and types of artillery systems, radars and sensors for its three services.

Additions to the existing list were made after the 26/11 terror strikes with armed forces going in for fast-track acquisition for their urgent needs.

To witness the mega event, Defence Ministers from eight countries including France, Peru, Bolivia, Surinam, Mongolia, Oman and Maldives will be at the show, besides high-level delegations from 40 countries.

Germany and France with 31, 26 Companies from Britain, Russia with 24, Italy with 20 and Israel with 11 companies would be the major participants at the seventh edition of the show. China would participate in the show for the first time with a 10-member delegation led its Deputy Air Chief.

US will be the largest participant at the event in terms of the space occupied at the venue. 22 of its companies will showcase their different civilian and military aircraft as part of flight and static displays. The major attraction of the show would be the flight displays by the four foreign fighter aircraft vying for IAF's 126 multi-role combat aircraft deal.

This includes the American F-16 and F/A-18, Russian MiG 35 and the European Eurofighter Typhoon. The other two contenders Gripen and Rafale have not brought their aircraft for the show.

Rivalry of the US contenders to fly Indian VIPs in their fighter jets will continue during this edition also with Lockheed Martin flying Indian Olympic-star Abhinav Bindra in its 'Fighting Falcon' and Boeing planning to fly two aviation personalities in its 'Super Hornet.' In the 6th edition of the show, Tata Group Chairman Ratan Tata was flown by both the companies in their aircraft. India's indigenously developed platforms such as the Light Combat Aircraft, ALH Dhruv and the Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) would also fly at the show.

IAF's Su-30s, Mirages and the Surya Kiran Aerobatics Team (SKAT) will also form part of the daily flight displays over the venue.

A number of other aircraft including Hawk AJT, C-17, Embraer 135 business jet, Legacy 600, C-130J, Citation XLS, G 550, AN-12 Cargo, K-135 Stratotanker and A-310 MRTT will also be there on static display.

The participation of companies at the show has increased after India allowed procurement of weapon systems and equipment from the US for the modernisation of its armed forces.

Opening up of the defence sector to Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) and new opportunities in the civil aviation sector have also drawn global players to the show.

To offer maximum business opportunities to participants, structured business-to-business meetings venue has been earmarked at the show.

Indian space prowess will be showcased at the ISRO pavilion set up with the Human Resource pavilion displaying aerospace projects undertaken by various IITs and engineering colleges.

Impact of 26/11 terror strikes would be seen in the security arrangements as 140 CCTV cameras have been installed at the venue to keep a close eye on the developments at the show and IAF's Special troops 'Garuds' will carry out patrolling inside the venue.

To tackle emergencies in case of any accident or fire, two Mi-8 choppers as air ambulances will be stationed at strategic points so that they can take off at short notice for casualty evacuation with 30 doctors including cardiac specialists, anesthetists and surgeons present at the venue.

Organised by the Defence Ministry and managed by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the five-day show will be inaugurated by the Defence Minister A K Antony on Wednesday at Yelahanka air base in Bengaluru.

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