Bangalore decks up for spectacular air show

Bangalore, Feb 5 (IANS) The stage is set for a spectacular air show on the city's outskirts as the five-day biennial Aero India takes off Wednesday with fighters, choppers and other military aircraft demonstrating their strike power and displaying breath-taking aerobatics.

The dazzling flying display in formation by the Indian Air Force (IAF) Sarang helicopter team and aerobatics by Russian Knights in Sukhoi-27 combat aircraft and Flying Bulls from Czech Republic will be a major attraction for thousands of people who will make a beeline to the venue for a visual delight twice a day.

Billed as the largest event of its kind in South Asia, the ninth edition of the international expo on aerospace, defence and civil aviation will also showcase the latest products and technologies through 650 exhibitors from 27 nations, including Belgium, Britain, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Russia and Ukraine.

Organised by the Indian defence ministry in partnership with the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) at the IAF's Yelahanka air base, the trade fair will be inaugurated by Defence Minister A.K. Antony in the presence of 78 foreign delegations, services chiefs, dignitaries and representatives of global aerospace majors.

With the IAF selecting French fighter Rafale to replace its ageing Russian MiG-21 fleet, the fourth generation medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) will be the star of the air show, as its vendor Dassault Aviation has flown in three of them, two for aerial display and one for static display.

The twin-engine delta-wing Rafale outsmarted Eurofighter Typhoon, which was also short-listed out of the six global aerospace majors, including Russian MiG-35, Lockheed Martin's F-16 Falcon, Boeing's F-18 Hornet and Swedish Saab Gripen for the IAF's multi-billion dollar order of 126 aircraft.

Vying for equal attention will be other metal birds, including the India's Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas fighter, F-16 of the US major Lockheed Martin, Russian Sukhoi, British jet trainer Hawk and French Mirage 2000, which will participate in the flying display twice a day.

Hogging the limelight will be Boeing's C-17 roaring Globemaster-III high lift military transport aircraft, which will join the IAF's fleet this year, the weaponised version of HAL's Advance Light Helicopter (ALH) Rudra, its multi-role version Dhruv and prototype of its light combat helicopter (LCH).

The naval variant of the LCA with armament mock-ups, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAVs) Rustom-1 and Nishant on launch vehicles will be on static display at the Indian pavilion along with missiles of the state-run Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) and radars and electronic warfare systems from the state-run Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL).

Another star attraction at static display will be the Swiss-made turboprop low-wing tandem-seat Pilatus PC-7 aircraft the IAF will induct this year to train its rookie pilots in basic functions, including aerobatics, instruments, tactics and night flying.

The IAF will also fly its vintage Tigermoth trainer for the first time in this air show though it was on a static display four years ago in the seventh edition of the event.

The two-seater de Havilland DH82's single bay biplane, powered by a 145 horsepower Gypsy Major four cylinder inverted air-cooled engine, was the primary trainer craft for the British Royal Air Force during the World War II and a basic trainer aircraft of the IAF in the 1940s before it was replaced by the indigenously-built Hindustan Trainer (HT-2).

In the absence of an electric system, Tigermoth has to be cranked manually.

The popular Surya Kiran aerobatics display, however, will be sorely missed this time following its grounding by the IAF.

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