Aero India 2019 begins, Defence minister pitches for ‘Make in India’

Bengaluru: Taking part in the 12th edition of Asia’s premier air show – Aero India 2019 – at the Yelahanka air base, Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman today made a strong pitch for ‘Make in India’ initiative.

The five-day mega event, which began today, is a biennial event and it would showcase India’s air defence prowess. It would provide a platform for aviation companies, the defence sector and government to forge new alliances and contracts.

Speaking at the event, she invited investors to capitalise on the ecosystem in aero space and other sectors in India which offered a big market for Defence manufacturing. She mentioned a number of initiatives taken up by the government, which also included permitting 100 per cent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Defence manufacturing.

Sitharaman she said the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) could find joint venture partners so that the production could be scaled up and they could have a captive market and could export from India. She also noted that during the last four years and the current financial year, 150 contracts worth about Rs 1,27,500 crores have been signed with the Indian vendors for procurement of defence equipment for the armed forces.

Yesterday, a pilot was killed and two injured when two jets of the Surya Kiran Aerobatics Team collided while attempting a mid-air spin manoeuvre during rehearsals for the upcoming Aero India show at the Yelahanka airbase, Bengaluru.

The jets were involved in an acrobatic manoeuvre where the upper jet flies in close proximity in an inverted position over the lower jet and they exchange positions by spinning. Reportedly, the lower aircraft was flying with two seats occupied while the upper aircraft had only the pilot when they collided.

The five-day mega event began on a sombre note, a day after two aircraft of Surya Kiran, Indian Air Force (IAF)’s aerobatics team, collided mid air, killing a pilot and injuring two others who ejected to safety.

Last week it was reported that three French-made Rafale fighter jets landed at the Yelahanka Air Force Station for the Aero India show. Two of the jets will be used for flying exercises and the third one for display.

A political storm between the Bharatiya Janata Party and Congress erupted last August over reports about shifting the venue from Bengaluru to Uttar Pradesh.

Apart from the Tejas, the HTT-40 (Basic Trainer Aircraft), first indigenously upgraded Hawk Mk132– named as Hawk-i, Civil Do-228, Advanced Light Helicopter (Rudra), Light Utility Helicopter (LUH),Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) are scheduled to fly in the air show.

Also, aerobatic teams like India’s Sarang (ALH-Dhruv) and UK-based Yakovlevs are expected to enthrall the audience. On static display would be HAL’s Light Utility Helicopter (PT-1), Light Combat Helicopter (TD-2), Advanced Light Helicopter (Rudra) and ALH MICU (Medical Intensive CareUnit).

The Sukhoi SU-30, Rafale, F-16 Fighting Falcon, F/A-18 Super Hornet and the mighty B-52 Stratofortress bomber would be part of the air show.

A total of 61 aircraft would be on display and 403 exhibitors would be part of the show. CEO’s round table, drone Olympics, startup manthan and women’s day (to celebrate women achievers) are some of the highlights of Aero India-2019.

NT Bureau