Plan to shift air show was with MoD for at least 5 yrs

The proposal to move Aero India out of Bengaluru was first placed before Arun Jaitley during his short tenure as the Defence minister in the early days of the NDA government. DH FILE PHOTO

Even though it is being hotly debated for the last three days, the proposal to shift the biennial air show, Aero India, out of Bengaluru due to safety concerns is not a new one. But it has come under scrutiny for the first time because of the protests from top Karnataka politicians.

Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy and his deputy G Parameshwara, former chief minister Siddaramaiah and Congress leaders Dinesh Gundu Rao and Priyank Kharge took to the social media in the last 72 hours to slam the proposed relocation of the show.

The Defence Ministry, however, is yet to make any official announcement.

“The concerns are premature. There’s no development in the matter,” defence ministry sources said on Monday.

A week ago when Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman was asked the same question at a press conference in Bengaluru, she didn’t give a straight answer.

“People from many places are asking for the venue to be shifted. It is just like the Defence Expo that was held for 10 years continuously in Delhi and then once in Goa and later in Chennai. I am aware that a reasonable amount of time is required to be given before the dates and venue for Aero-India is announced,” she had stated.

The proposal to move Aero-India out of Bengaluru was first placed before Arun Jaitley during his short tenure as the defence minister in the early days of the NDA government. Later, it was examined by his successor Manohar Parrikar too.

The technical reasons for shifting include short runway (7,200 ft) at Yelahanka in Bengaluru, limiting the participation of the aircraft, proximity to the highway on two sides of the base, adverse impact on the IAF training schedule and operational problems faced by the Kempegowda international airport in Bengaluru, sources told DH.

In the absence of a “safe flying environment,” participation of fighter jets in Aero India was going down over the years, while other air shows in Asia were becoming popular, sources said. The proposal was prepared after analysing the participants’ profile in 2011 and 2013.

However, a section of the retired IAF officers expressed doubts on whether Bakshi Ki Talab IAF station in Lucknow was prepared to host an event of such magnitude. Located nearly 20 km away from the city, the IAF station hosts MiG-21 fighters.

The Defence Ministry is silent on the reports of advancing the show by nearly five months and hold it between October 27 and November 4.

“It’s a very aggressive and ambitious plan. If the Defence Ministry has such a plan, the sooner it is announced, the better,” said an official from a major arms company, a regular at the Indian air show.

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Plan to shift air show was with MoD for at least 5 yrs

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