Aero India-2013 to showcase civil, military aircraft

New Delhi, Jan 21 (IANS) The ninth edition of Aero India will be held Feb 6-10 at Bangalore with over 53 civil and military aircraft from leading manufacturers across the globe expected to participate in the event, an official said Monday.

The show, to be inaugurated by Defence Minister A.K. Antony, will witness aerobatic displays by the Flying Bulls team from the Czech Republic, the Russian Knights team comprising Su-27 combat aircraft and the Sarang team of the Indian Air Force.

"I hope it will be a bigger show compared to earlier editions. We are getting support from various stakeholders. I hope it will turn out to be very good show," Defence Production Secretary R.K. Mathur told reporters here.

Mathur said China had been invited but has not confirmed its participation.

He said 53 aircraft would be flying at the event and more participants were expected. As many as 63 aircraft had participated in 2011.

Mathur said the French Rafale and American F-16 fighter aircraft would participate in the show.

"The show has its own merits for development of defence industry in the country," Mathur said.

Asked if there was less participation in the wake of the medium multirole combat aircraft (MMCA) deal having been finalised, Mathur said interest of companies remains the same.

There were six contenders for the MMCA deal which included the Russian MiG-35, Lockheed Martin's F-16 Falcon, Boeing's F-18 Hornet, the Swedish Saab Gripen, Eurofighter Typhoon and French Rafale. The Rafale fighter of Dassault Aviation had emerged as the lowest bidder in the MMCA competition last year.

Mathur said leading engineering colleges from the country would display designs of their students at the aero show.

He said the aero show provides an ideal window of opportunity to companies to not only network with Indian industries but also benefit from the sharing of expertise in research and development and product support with other global players.

Mathur said business due to Aero India shows had led "to offsets of Rs.19,000 crore". He said business opportunities of Rs.14,000 crore have already been generated for the private sector. Since 2006, all defence deals above Rs.300 crore require vendors to reinvest 30 percent in India's defence industry.

Answering a query on the role of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. in the MMCA project in view of talks with Dassault, Mathur said HAL would be the lead integrator for producing MMCA.

"HAL's role is defined in the request for proposal for the MMRCA project. It says that the main body of the plane, aero-engines and the integration shall be done by the HAL," Mathur said.

As per the tender, 18 of the 126 aircraft are to be supplied by Rafale from its facilities and the rest are to be licence-produced by the HAL at its facilities here.

Officials said 607 companies have booked space at the show, while 675 took part in the last edition.

They said that Aero Show will be spread over 125,000 sq m compared to the previous Aero India, which was spread over 75,000 sq m.

Against 47 overseas delegations in 2011, there will be 78 foreign delegations this year. The largest overseas participation is expected from the US, followed by Israel and Russia.

Aero India is a biennial air show held at Yelahanka Air Force Station in Bangalore and aims to bring under one roof exhibitors from around the globe to showcase the best in aviation.

The show is organised by Department of Defence Production.

India is projected to become the third largest defence spender after the US and China. The total defence capital budget in 12th Five Year Plan is estimated to be Rs.4,45,500 crore with capital acquisition budget ranging up to 85 percent on average.

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