BENGALURU, Feb 18:
Massive crowds surged the Yelahanka base of the Indian Air Force here today as curtains rung down on the 11th edition of Aero India with the global mights displaying their wares and flying prowess to the Indian military, the second highest defence buyer in the world.
The slogan of ‘Make in India’ ran through the entire five-day of the event that saw business and military officials from 30 countries holding dialogue for future purchases and technology transfers sought by various big and small firms in the defence market.
With the industry opened up to the private sector in a big way the Industrial giants like Tatas, Reliance, Kalyani Group, Mahindras, followed by a host of medium and small tech savvy industries that had made a mark in their niche areas of electronics, avionics and materials pitching in for their pound of flesh in the huge Indian defence market, including those offerings from the offset contracts.
Though no major deals had come through a host of Memorandum of Understandings, agreements relating to transfer of technology and partnerships for joint production were signed during the five-day show.
However the cynosure of all eyes, especially the massive crowds witnessed in the last two days was the flying display with aircraft ranging from the tiny basic trainer prototype HTT-40 and the thundering huge wares such as the Sukhoi-30MKI, Rafale, Gripen, India’s own Tejas, Hawk-i, the indigenously HAL built jet trainer, and the surya kiran and sarang aerobatic teams of IAF.
Indian Defence public sectors Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and the Bharat Electronics were present in a large way with the HAL on the opening day gave a spectacular display of the indigenous capacity it had built on developing and manufacturing various aircraft, be it the Dorniers, Tejas the light combat Aircraft, the advanced light helicopter, Dhruv and its combat version Rudra. It also showcased for the first time in an aeroshow its latest product, the Light Utility Helicopter (LUH). It also unveiled the Jaguar upgrade Darin III.
Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) was also present in full strength at the show exhibiting its wares, including a host of missiles, drones and other products being developed for the three forces.
However it’s piece de resistance at the show was the indigenously developed Airborne Early Warning and Control system on board the Embraer EMB-145 aircraft handed over to the IAF by the DRDO.
The second AEW&CS would be delivered to IAF in six months and the DRDO is already in the final phase of taking up the next phase of bigger AWACS development that would be fitted into an Airbus aircraft. The Rs.20,000 crore project was expected to secure the approval of the Cabinet Committee on Security in the next six months.
Both Lockheed Martin and SAAB top officials were in big strength to prove the capability of their respective fighter aircraft Gripen and F-16 which had been offered for the IAF and had sent out the letter of intent for single engine fighter aircraft. IAF concerned with the shrinking air strike capability had sought to increase its combat strength through this acquisition as the Rafale deal was only for 36 aircraft.
With the Government keen make in india initiative both SAAB and Lockheet Martin have pitched in and despite the Trump administration back in the US being aggressive in its protectionism policy was hopeful that a government to government dialogue would enable to break the ice, Infact a spokesman for the Lokheed Martin indicated at the show that the government to government dialogue was on in this regard.
A significant point to note was the presence of a large number of small and medium enterprises that are slowly emerging dominant players in the sector with their technical capability.
A large number of these players were attracted by a number of military personnel besides foreign partners who extended their willingness to partner both for Indian and markets abroad.
The Indian entrepreneurs especially in the area of electronics and avionics were happy that their presence had been fruitful and are keen to take up follow up measures with the partners who had shown interest to move forward. Some of them have been present in the previous editions and had significantly enhanced their displays, especially those which have found market.
Apart from individuals companies, states such as Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Gujarat had in an attempt to woo investors in the area were present in cluster formations helping out the home grown companies to have an opportunity to exhibit their products. (UNI)