Touted to be Asia’s biggest event of its kind, Aero India 2013 has taken off to a flying start. The world’s biggest arms importer will play host to almost 700 companies and 78 overseas delegates. Aviation enthusiasts, defense contractors, arms manufacturers, scientists and military chiefs converge on the Yelahanka Air force Station in Bangalore for the 5 day extravaganza started on 6th February.
The biennial event started in 1996 has grown considerably over time. Aiming to become a defense hub for the Asia region, Aero India has been organised to provide a platform for bolstering business in the international aviation sector.
Vying to get lucrative government contracts, heads of global armament firms and aerospace companies like Rafale, Dassault and United Aircraft will be showcasing their latest technological innovations and capabilities. Spread over an area of 1,25,000 square meters, the exhibition ground has also representations from home grown companies. HAL based in Bangalore has designed and built Tejas, a light combat aircraft and Dhruv, a multi-utility helicopter. The Russian jet fighter Mikoyan MiG-35 and American F-16IN Super Viper (a 4.5 generation aircraft) manufactured by Lockheed Martin were unveiled for the first time at the 6th and 9th editions of Aero India respectively. Tejas was involved in acrobatic stunts as part of exhibition. The Flying Bulls from the Czech Republic also performed breath-taking maneuvers.
The top attractions of 2011, Boeing, Lochheed Martin, SAAB, Eurofighter, were conspicuous by their absence. They had competed for a tender for 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft worth $15 billion (one of the world’s largest ever deal) by the Indian Airforce, which was eventually secured by France’s Dassault.
Last event held in 2011 saw 675 companies and 47 overseas delegations. The ever increasing requirements of the defense sector and the massive overhaul of largely obsolete Soviet-era hardware are the main reasons for the phenomenal increase in the event’s scope. More than 70% of all arms and ammunition are purchased from overseas by the Indian government.