Move afoot to delink IAF from Aero India

Yelahanka in Bangalore might not host the 9th edition of the flagship event

grounded?: This could be the sight in Mysore skies two years later. dh file photo

While MoD bureaurcrats discussed the matter informally in the course of the five-day Aero India 2011 held at the IAF’s Yelahanka airbase, defence sources familiar with the nascent proposal said some officials were of the opinion that the IAF’s control over the show be eased gradually. This would entail greater civilian control over the show in the future.

Some defence officers see in such a move the first step in keeping the IAF out of the scene, which could happen the next time Aero India is hosted, an MoD source in Delhi told Deccan Herald over the phone.

The Defence Exhibitions Organisation, under the Department of Defence Production, which has been incharge of organising the event, is said to have taken the matter seriously and had “put some thought” behind it even before this year’s event, which was tainted by allegations that Wing Commander A K Thakur, against whom the IAF has initiated a Court of Inquiry (CoI) here, had taken bribes to allot favourable positions for foreign firms at the display area.

Unlike the previous editions, civil aircraft occupied chunk of the place at Aero India 2011, with only 47 per cent of the aircraft that were displayed event being military.

And this, Defence Exhibition Organisation Joint Director Wing Commander M D Singh had said at that time, was a welcome sign. “It has been a conscious effort by the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to change the image of the show. Therefore, we have even changed the theme from ‘Aerospace & Defence Show’, to ‘Civil, Aerospace and Defence Show’,” he had said, hinting that the future of the show will depend of the civil aircraft business, which is booming.

Also, with the multi-billion dollar medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA), more or less through, the IAF, sources said, might not have anything to take away from the show and that, thereby, it is ideal it has nothing to do with the show.

Keeping in mind the disturbances caused to commercial flights during the last edition concluded February 13, 2010,  (with the Bangalore International Airport now operational) and there being no military (IAF also) presence in Mysore, the ninth edition of the show, sources said, might be held there.

Although they stated that the matter of deciding on where to host the next show has not even reached the drawing boards in MoD, they said that Mysore’s name has come up in discussions more than once.

Noting that Mysore had figured even in the informal talks during the show earlier this year, sources in the MoD say that Karnataka’s cultural capital is the most likely destination if the event is shifted from Bangalore.

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