Amid tragedy, Aero India 2019 to kick off in Bengaluru on Wednesday - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla - Strategy. Economics. Defence.

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Tuesday 19 February 2019

Amid tragedy, Aero India 2019 to kick off in Bengaluru on Wednesday

By Ajai Shukla
Business Standard, 20th Feb 19

Aero India 2019, the defence ministry’s biennial aerospace exposition being held in Bengaluru from Wednesday to Sunday, will begin on a sombre note. On Tuesday, two Hawk jets of the Indian Air Force’s (IAF’s) aerobatics team, Suryakiran, collided in mid air, resulting in the death of one pilot and the hospitalization of two more.

The lead up to Aero India 2019 has been dogged by confusion. First, Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman inexplicably decided to shift Aero India to Lucknow, even though it has always been held in Bengaluru, where suitable infrastructure exists. Field visits to the Lucknow airfield revealed its unsuitability but, by the time it was decided to retain Bengaluru as the venue, it was already November.

Causing further confusion, the Defence Exhibitions Organisation (DEO), which exists only to organize shows like Aero India, was divested of organizational responsibility and the defence ministry ordered Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) to organize the entire show.

Business Standard learns that over 200 employees from HAL have been diverted from their jobs since December to organize Aero India 2019.

Eventually, a total of 414 companies will be participating in Aero India 2019, 247 of them being Indian. For the first time, 45 French firms participating will comprise the largest foreign representation, many of them hoping to forge industrial partnerships to discharge offsets connected with the Rafale purchase.

There are also 37 companies from the US, 23 from Russia, 19 from the UK and nine from Israel.

Aero India shows from 2005 to 2015 were enlivened by the IAF’s then on-going procurement of 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA). All six vendors in the fray – Boeing and Lockheed Martin from the US, MiG from Russia, Dassault from France, Saab from Sweden and the European consortium Eurofighter GmbH – had sent across their fighters to show off their aerobatics capabilities.

That contest eventually ended as a damp squib, with the purchase of 36 Rafale fighters from Dassault. However, the IAF has re-initiated the procurement of fighters, calling for interest in building 114 medium fighters in India. All six of the MMRCA vendors have responded, and Sukhoi has joined them with an offer of its Sukhoi-35 fighter.

Several vendors, however, say they have learned not to commit too much money into the early stages of an Indian procurement. Of the foreign fighters, only the Rafale and Boeing’s F/A-18E Super Hornet will be displaying aerobatics in Bengaluru.

Also joining them will be the indigenous Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA), which has steadily expanded its flight envelope. After Aero India, the Tejas will be going to Malaysia next month, where it will be demonstrating its aerobatics capabilities at the Langkawi Air Show. The Malaysian Air Force, which, like the IAF, flies an upgraded Sukhoi-30, is understood to be evaluating the Tejas and the Sino-Pakistani JF-17 Thunder in the light fighter category.

Sitharaman will inaugurate aero India 2019 on Wednesday. The minister for civil aviation and Karnataka’s chief minister will also attend.

1 comment:

  1. aero india show is just a plain aero show.
    there are fewer companies participating. zero contracts signing.
    MNC's are tired of signing MoU's over the past dozen editions with no orders to follow.
    venue need not be bangalore all the time. MoU's or contracts can be signed anywhere. blazing sun this time of the year will also discourage the visitors. they should advance the calendar month and also shift to newer locations like Hyderabad or Vizag or Chennai etc.
    Let other people also enjoy the fun!!


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