Aero India takes off today; firms aim to land big deals

Aero India takes off today;  firms aim to land big deals

The stage is set for the 11th biennial international aerospace exposition, Aero India 2017, at the Yelahanka Air Force Station here. The five-day show opens on Tuesday.

Over two lakh visitors are expected to descend on the venue, with 549 Indian and global companies vying to clinch deals.

On Monday, the defence ministry, Indian Air Force and the participating firms were busy with last-minute preparations and rehearsals.

Fighter jets and aerobatic teams flew sorties through the day. Most had Tuesday’s inaugural in mind, when Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar is scheduled to declare the show open.

India’s outlook

Parrikar is expected use the platform to outline Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s domestic defence production strategy. That plan banks on giving more contracts to local firms, while pushing global defence companies to strike deals with Indian firms.

The thrust, once again, will be on ‘Make in India’ to upgrade the armed forces through acquisition of more fighter jets, early warning systems, missiles, radars and more. Desperate to replace its ageing fleet of fighter aircraft, India had opted to buy 36 multi-role Rafale jets directly from the French manufacturer Dassault Aviation. But that would only meet a part of IAF’s original requirement for 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA).

The last several Aero India shows had competing aircraft firms, including Lockheed Martin with its F-16s, showcasing their prowess through static and aerial displays.

The trend continues. The proof was in the air on Monday, as the light single-engine multi-role fighter JAS 39 Gripen pierced through the skies above the Yelahanka airbase.

The particular aircraft, manufactured by the Swedish firm Saab, had taken part in the NATO operation Unified Protector in Libya.

The American F-16 Falcon was also up on routine sorties. The aerial manoeuvres of the Sukhoi-30 MKI provided a contrast, making a subtle statement that India’s traditional reliance on Russia is still strong. 


Trump factor
The emergence of Donald Trump has introduced a sense of uncertainty into many India-US defence contracts. The Trump administration is likely to review American firm Lockheed’s proposed tie-ups, one of which is to build F-16 planes in India.

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