Asia biggest air show takes off

Warplanes thundered and helicopters waltzed in the skies as they brought the curtain up on Aero India 2013 here on Wednesday.

Considered Asia’s biggest air extravaganza, the air show in the national aerospace heartland was a display of the country’s military strike power. A coordinated flypast of three Mi-8 helicopters carrying the flags of the Army, the Navy and the Air Force signalled the start of the event on a sunny morning at the Yelahanka air base here.

Strong industry

The five-day air show and exposition, attended by over 25 countries, and 650 national and overseas companies, is proof of India’s growing presence in civil and military aviation, Defence Minister A.K. Antony said as he opened the ninth edition of the event.

The Ministry of Defence (MoD) organises the Bangalore air show every second year. The inaugural address was attended by heads of global aerospace companies, military chiefs, Air Force personnel, scientists and officials.

“Domestic participation has gone up considerably in Aero India 2013, and we are happy about it. Self-reliance in defence is our focus area. We want to create a strong defence industry base,” Mr. Antony said.

This year, his Ministry had difficulty accommodating the increasing demand from participants, although the exhibition space had grown 60 per cent over 2011, he later said.

Old favourites missed

On the flying and tarmac side though, there were fewer planes than in 2011.

The crowds will miss old favourites and big fighters including the colourful Surya Kiran display planes. One MoD official said that with the medium multi-role combat aircraft mega deal as good as clinched by French entry Rafale, the other contenders, Russia’s MiG-35, the U.S.’ Boeing F/A-18 and the Swedish Saab JAS 39 Gripen, had stayed away.

As the flying displays began, the tiny World War II vintage trainer aircraft, the yellow de Havilland Tiger Moth, did the opening honours.

The uniquely private sector-owned Czech aerobatics team of four blue Flying Bulls danced in sync.

The IAF’s war machine, Sukhoi-30MkI, and the home-grown light combat aircraft, Tejas, flown by Grp Capt Suneet Krishna, showed off some heart-stopping vertical climbs.

The Sarang helicopter aerobatics team, and the border sentinels — the unmanned surveillance plane and the Embraer-mounted Indian Airborne Early Warning and Control System radar — were there as well.

The Rafale, however, stole the thunder from them all. Its maker, French major Dassault Aviation, has bought in two of them for flying and one for display. The Rafales will join the IAF’s attack fleet in the coming years if the Ministry’s ongoing price negotiations for the estimated Rs. 50,000-crore deal click.

The British-made Hawk jet trainer and Boeing’s large C-17 military transport plane, both acquired by IAF, HAL’s weaponised light helicopter Rudra and the prototype of the light combat helicopter will also do daily flying displays.

Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh, IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal N.A.K. Browne, Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, Minister of State for Defence Jitendra Singh, Defence R&D Secretary V.K. Saraswat, Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma, Defence Production Secretary R.K. Mathur and co-organiser FICCI’s chairperson Naina Lal Kidwai witnessed the show.

Mr. Shettar released the State’s new aerospace policy, which proposes incentives and a dedicated aerospace park for companies investing in the sector.



Posted on February 7, 2013, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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