Parrikar strikes biz balance

First day of air show a low-key affair

Parrikar strikes biz balance

The ‘Make in India’ thrust was unmistakable. Yet, as the 11th biennial international aerospace exhibition, Aero India 2017, began in trademark style at the Yelahanka Air Force station here, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar was also eager to reach out to foreign firms.

Minutes before a unique ‘Make in India’ formation of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited-built aircraft flew past, Parrikar spelt out the Centre’s plan: To encourage Indian companies in defence manufacturing, while inviting international firms to invest, collaborate and boost joint production. Besides the usual statements of intent, the inaugural lacked the excitement of last year. The general perception was that the air show was low key this year, indicated by reduced participation of aerospace companies.

Liberalised foreign direct investment norms, improved ease of doing business, and the large number of licenses issued were indicators of this trend, he said.

As if in sync, a prototype of the indigenously designed and developed Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) recorded its maiden flight at the inaugural. Piloted by Wg Cdr Unni Pillai, it flew past, flanked by two Cheetal copters in beam formation.

The Dornier 228, Sukhoi-MKI and the indigenous version of the Hawk that came next in Mike formation drove home the point further.

Impressing the crowds with its steep climbs and extreme tail-up manoeuvres, the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) too was part of the same game plan.

If the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) made a statement with its rapid climb and slow-speed passes, the high-speed manoeuvres of the Saab Gripen fighter jet, Lockheed Martin’s F-16 and Dassault’s Rafale struck a chord for foreign firms.

Parrikar talked about the government’s future orientation by focusing on aerospace start-ups. This, he said, would be open to both domestic and foreign players.

In the absence of Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, Industries Minister R V Deshpande connected the dots between aerospace and Karnataka. 

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