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India`s biggest air show takes off on flying note

India`s biggest air show Aero India 2011 began on a bright sunny note on Wednesday in this aerospace hub with a spectacular fly-past and breathtaking aerobatic formations by the Indian Air Force (IAF) fleet of aircraft and helicopters.

Bangalore: India`s biggest air show Aero India 2011 began on a bright sunny note on Wednesday in this aerospace hub with a spectacular fly-past and breathtaking aerobatic formations by the Indian Air Force (IAF) fleet of aircraft and helicopters.

Defence Minister AK Antony declared open the eighth edition of the biennial aerospace and aviation trade expo at the IAF base in Yelahanka on the city`s outskirts in the presence of 40 foreign delegations, dignitaries, officials and top executives of global aerospace majors.

Organised by the Defence Ministry in association with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the five-day event is the largest ever being held in South Asia, with about 675 exhibitors, including 380 from 29 countries and 295 domestic firms, showcasing their latest aerospace technologies and products for Indian and international markets.

Official delegations from 36 countries, including the big five - Britain, Germany, France, Russia and the US - are visiting the biennial event to promote their global aerospace majors for new collaborations, partnerships and joint ventures with Indian state-run and private enterprises.

“The US delegation, led by its Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Andrew J Shapiro, will be the largest with 250 members, including officials, chief executives and experts in the field at the aero show,” an official said.

Other major delegations will be from Germany with 35 members and Italy 10.

Eight countries - Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Russia and the US - have put up dedicated pavilions for their respective aerospace companies and organisations.

Similarly, about 70,000 business delegates from 70 countries will make a beeline to the military and civil aviation trade show, while a whopping 275,000 general visitors are expected to throng the venue for witnessing the static and flying display.

About 100 military and civil aircraft, including 47 foreign planes and different helicopters, will be on static or flying display.

India`s indigenous light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas will be the star attraction, as it is the world`s first lightweight multi-role combat aircraft. Tejas would demonstrate its potent strike force with spectacular flying displays and breathtaking aerobatics in formation.

“This will be first time when a fleet of 10 Tejas, including a trainer variant and a naval variant will be on static and flying display to showcase its air prowess,” state-run Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) Director PS Subramanyam said on the eve of the air show.

Besides Tejas, the Indian Defence R&D establishments and state-run behemoths like Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) will display a range of jets, unmanned aircraft (Nishant), pilotless target aircraft (Lakshya) and ground-based systems such as radars, electronic warfare systems and airborne early warning systems.

“We are demonstrating the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT), Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) Hawk and Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) at the event, besides the flagship products,” an HAL official said.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) will also display its air prowess with its fleet of Sukhois, MiGs, Mirages and Jaguars.

Among the aircraft to fly at the air show are contenders for the IAF USD 10 billion tender for 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) such as European consortium EADS` Eurofighter Typhoon, US majors Boeing`s F/A-18 and Lockheed Martin`s F-16s, Swedish SAAB`s Gripen and Dasault`s Rafale.

Only the heavy Russian MiG-35, the sixth competitor in the fray for the MMRCA order, will not fly this time.

The show will have a flying display in the morning and evening on all days and the major attraction will be the Czech Republic`s Flying Bulls aerobatic team, which will stage its synchronised flying skills with four Zlin 50LX aircraft.

The Bulls will have company from IAF`s Suryakirans, a nine-aircraft team, flying their Kiran MkII trainer jets along with the ALH Sarang team.

This year`s air show will outnumber all previous figures in terms of participating countries, companies, space and business, with a 70 percent increase in gross exhibition area to 75,000 square metres from 44,000 square metres in 2009.


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