The best war machines are set to display their special features at the biggest-ever aero show beginning today in Bengaluru. Prime Minister Narendra Modi will inaugurate the event in which India’s Aatmanirbharta resolve and the drive for the world to Make in India will be on display. The theme of the five-day Aero India 2023 is ‘The Runway to a Billion Opportunities’.
A premier exhibition in the global aviation industry, Aero India is held biennially in a total area of around 35,000 sqm, providing an opportunity for the industry to showcase its capabilities, products and services.
Major attractions will include the F-35 stealth fighter jet of the United States and the Sukhoi Su-57E fifth-generation fighter jet from Russia. India will display Light Combat Aircraft (LCA)-Tejas, HTT-40, Dornier Light Utility Helicopter (LUH), Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) and Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH).
A total of 809 exhibitors have registered to participate in the event. Of them, 110 are foreign exhibitors. Top exhibitors include Airbus, Boeing, Dassault Aviation, Lockheed Martin, Israel Aerospace Industry, BrahMos Aerospace, Army Aviation, HC Robotics, SAAB, Safran, Rolls Royce, Larsen & Toubro, Bharat Forge Limited, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) and BEML Limited.
India is a partner of choice: US
“As India modernises its defence capabilities, certainly we want to be the partner of choice. We are increasingly focused on mutually beneficial co-production and co-development partnerships,” says Elizabeth Jones, Charge d’Affaires Ambassador of the US embassy, who will lead the largest-ever US delegation to Aero India.
The F-35 stealth fighter jet of the US Air Force is expected to participate in both static and flying displays at the air show. Earlier, the US government has never offered the F-35 to India. The fighter jet is co-developed in partnership with eight countries and manufactured by Lockheed Martin. At present, it is flown by 14 air forces and navies in the world.
By getting the F-35 to participate in Aero India, the US may try to influence the Indian Navy’s upcoming procurement of fighter jets for aircraft carrier INS Vikrant, says an expert. That jet deal is currently locked in fierce competition between France’s Rafale-M and the F/A-18 Super Hornet of the US. The manufacturers of both aircraft claim to have satisfied the Indian Navy during technical demonstrations.
Tejas at India Pavilion
India’s Light Combat Aircraft Tejas, a single-engine, lightweight, highly agile, multi-role supersonic fighter, will be at the centre stage of the India Pavilion. India will focus on displaying indigenous equipment and technologies and forging partnerships with foreign companies. The event will showcase the country’s progress in design leadership, growth in the UAVs sector, defence space and futuristic technologies.
The event will promote the export of indigenous air platforms such as Light Combat Aircraft (LCA)-Tejas, HTT-40, Dornier Light Utility Helicopter (LUH), Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) and Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH).
The event will also help in integrating domestic MSMEs and start-ups in the global supply chain and attract foreign investments including partnerships for co-development and co-production.
The Medium Altitude Long Endurance class unmanned aerial vehicle TAPAS-BH (Tactical Aerial Platform for Advanced Surveillance – Beyond Horizon) will make its flying debut at Aero India.
“TAPAS is DRDO’s solution to the tri-services ISTAR (intelligence, surveillance, target acquisition, and reconnaissance) requirements. The UAV is capable of operating at altitudes up to 28000 feet, with an endurance of 18 plus hours,” says Defence Research and Development Organisation.
The DRDO pavilion will showcase over 330 products categorised into 12 zones including Combat Aircraft & UAVs, Missiles & Strategic Systems, Engine & Propulsion Systems, Airborne Surveillance Systems, and Sensors Electronic Warfare & Communication Systems, it was stated.
Showcase of Russian armoury
Russia is set to feature some of the best aerial machines, including the Sukhoi Su-57E fifth-generation fighter jet, models of the latest S-400 Triumf long-range and S-350E Vityaz medium-range surface-to-air missile systems and the Checkmate light tactical fighter.
Russia’s state arms seller Rosoboronexport says the Il-76MD-90A(E) military transport aircraft, the Il-78MK-90A aerial refuelling tanker, the Su-35 and Su-30SME supermaneuverable fighter aircraft and the MiG-35D multirole fighter will be on display.
“Rosoboronexport will feature about 200 types of the most advanced Russian-made armaments and military hardware, including the Su-57E top-notch fifth-generation multirole fighter and the Checkmate light tactical aircraft,” the Russian defence manufacturer said in a statement.
The Rosoboronexport statement added that the company would also showcase the Ka-226T light utility helicopter which is supposed to be launched under the ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ or ‘Make in India’ initiative of the Indian government at the premises of Indo-Russian Helicopters Limited, which is a joint venture between India and Russia.
There is more to the formidable Russian contingent at the Aero India 2023 international air show. Russia will also present the upgraded versions of the Ka-52E and Mi-28NE combat helicopters and the Mi-171Sh military transport rotorcraft.
Another big-ticket weapon from Russia at Aero India 2023 will be the Orlan-30 reconnaissance drone which will be on display outside Russian borders for the first time. “Visitors to the Rosoboronexport display stand are invited to see Russian unmanned aerial vehicles, including the Orion-E reconnaissance/strike UAV, the Orlan-10E reconnaissance UAV and the Orlan-30, a new product launched in 2022,” the Rosoboronexport statement said.
Rosoboronexport will also showcase advanced anti-drone and air defence systems. “Russian-made anti-drone systems, including Repellent, RLK-MCE, RB-504P-E and RB-504A-E, will also be on display,” Rosoboronexport said.
CEOs Round Table
Apart from aerobatic performances, discussions and seminars will be held during the show. The Ministry of Defence is organising a ‘CEOs Round Table’ on February 13, under the chairmanship of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. The platform, with the theme “Sky is not the limit: opportunities beyond boundaries”, is expected to lay the foundation of a more robust interaction between the industry partners and government with an eye on bolstering the ‘Make-in India’ campaign.
The Round Table will see participation from officials, delegates and global CEOs from 26 countries including international investors such as Boeing, Lockheed, Israel Aerospace Industries, General Atomics, Liebherr Group, Raytheon Technologies, Safran, and General Authority of Military Industries (GAMI).
Domestic PSUs like HAL, Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL), Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL), BEML Limited, and MishraDhatu Nigam Limited will also participate in the Round Table.
Defence Ministers’ Conclave
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh will host the Defence Ministers’ Conclave on February 14. The conclave will comprise defence ministers of friendly foreign countries who would be attending the event.
The conclave will address the aspects related to deepening cooperation for capacity building through investments, research and development, joint venture, co-development, co-production and provisioning of defence equipment, training, space, artificial intelligence and maritime security to grow together with the broad theme ‘Shared Prosperity through Enhanced Engagements in Defence (SPEED).
Then on February 15, Rajnath Singh will also be the chief guest at the ‘Bandhan ceremony’. Bandhan ceremony is mainly a tie-up with firms by way of signing memoranda of understanding, agreements, major announcements and product launches by private and public sectors.
The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited will display an ‘Aatmanirbhar Formation’ flight of 15 helicopters consisting of all variants of Advanced Light Helicopter, ‘Prachand’ Light Combat Helicopter, and Light Utility Helicopter.
The Aero India Show will focus on India’s growth in defence sectors such as UAVs, Defence Space and futuristic technologies.
The event will promote Light Combat Aircraft (LCA)-Tejas, HTT-40, Dornier Light Utility Helicopter (LUH), Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) and Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH).
Aero India will be joined by more than 80 countries, ministers from 30 countries and CEOs of 65 companies.
Premier private defence and aerospace manufacturing companies from India such as Larsen & Toubro, Bharat Forge, Dynamatic Technologies, and BrahMos Aerospace are also likely to be part of the event.