The Indian Air Force (IAF) contingent is at the Al Maktoum International Airport in Dubai to participate in the biennial Dubai Air Show, scheduled from November 13 to November 17, 2023. Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas and Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Dhruv are the two indigenous attractions of the IAF contingent. In contrast to the Tejas, which are participating in both the static and aerial demonstrations of the Airshow, the Sarang Helicopter Display Team will demonstrate their ability to do formation aerobatics.1
The Dubai Air Show, an event of great significance in the aviation sector, attracted considerable attention from industry stakeholders. Airlines are strategically positioned to engage in significant aircraft acquisitions, signifying a notable rebound from the adverse effects of the global grounding measures implemented during the COVID-19 pandemic. Considering prevailing regional security worries, such as the ongoing Israel-Hamas conflict and Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine, the five-day exhibition at Al Maktoum Airport in Dubai World Central will be a pivotal forum for noteworthy advancements.2
The Tejas and Sarang display teams have been a part of the 2021 edition of the Dubai Airshow, so this is the second time in a row that they have had the opportunity to amaze the event attendees.
At the Dubai Air Show 2023, India’s Tejas fighter jets, China’s J-10C fighter aircraft, and Pakistan’s JF-17 Thunder Block-3 fighter aircraft will compete for the audience’s attention. This event is being taken seriously as a significant face-off. This air show takes place at the Dubai World Central and is widely considered to be one of the most important aviation events on the global stage. It serves as a showcase for various commercial, business, and military aircraft.3
India, China and Pakistan have put on displays the aircraft manufactured on their home turfs. India’s Tejas fighter jets, China’s J-10C fighter aircraft, and Pakistan’s JF-17 Thunder Block-3 fighter aircraft will compete for the audience’s attention
The other aircraft are also scheduled to display their capabilities to impress potential customers. The aircraft slated to show flying are Boeing 777-9, KUH, Airbus A350, L-15, Mirage-2009-9, F-15, F-16, Rafale, JF-17, Badar 250, F-35, and KA-52.
India, China, and Pakistan have put on displays of aircraft manufactured on their home turfs to demonstrate their prowess in the international arena. Pakistan’s JF-17 results from a joint effort between the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex and the Chengdu Aerospace Corporation, which are located in China. In contrast, India’s Tejas and China’s J-10C are locally produced aircraft.
Despite being subject to sanctions by the United States and other nations owing to Moscow’s role in the Russia-Ukraine conflict, Russia’s presence at the event is another one of the highlights of the gathering. The participation of Russian Helicopters and ROSCOSMOS, Russia’s national space company, demonstrates the show’s global reach.4
The IAF’s C-17 Globemaster III transport aircraft is currently a staging aircraft for the IAF contingent. The teams have already given their first performance at the opening ceremony, which took place on November 13, 2023. After that, they will share the airspace with other premier aerial display teams from around the world. This is also a chance to highlight the tremendous achievements made by the Indian Aviation Industry, which may be demonstrated through the participation of indigenous platforms such as Tejas and Dhruv in the competition. At the same time, the Sarang Helicopter Display Team will showcase their exceptional formation aerobatics skills.
The other aircraft scheduled to display their capabilities to impress potential customers included Boeing 777-9, KUH, Airbus A350, L-15, Mirage-2009-9, F-15, F-16, Rafale, JF-17, Badar 250, F-35, and KA-52
The participation of the Indian Air Force in the Dubai Air Show 2023 is of the utmost significance because it gives a platform for the Indian aviation industry to showcase its accomplishments and capabilities to the rest of the globe. Including indigenous platforms such as the Tejas and the Dhruv demonstrates the development that the Indian aviation sector has made. The primary goal of engaging in foreign exhibitions is to highlight the technological superiority of Tejas, which incorporates the majority of the components, except the aircraft engine, in comparison to the JF-17, which predominantly relies on Chinese components.
Challenges must be overcome to succeed at this multinational event. The IAF’s C-17 Globemaster III aircraft had been employed to transfer the necessary logistic support and troops to Dubai. The prevailing weather presents challenges. Due to the city’s arid climate, temperatures in Dubai in November can range from 25 degrees Celsius to 35 degrees Celsius or more. Both the aircraft and the troops of the IAF will be required to operate in these harsh conditions, which can be difficult.5
The Dubai Air Show is recognised as a prominent aviation event in the Middle East, attracting significant international interest and attention. The participation of the Indian Air Force in the Dubai Air Show 2023 is an event of considerable importance for the Indian aviation industry. The Dubai Air Show, which takes place once every two years and is one of the most anticipated events in the aviation business, is where airlines are expected to make significant aircraft purchases. It offers a stage to demonstrate the progress that the industry has accomplished, as well as the potential of indigenous platforms like the Tejas and the Dhruv. The defence industry’s research and development efforts will unquestionably be bolstered if a new sale deal is struck for aircraft manufactured in India.
-The writer is a Senior Fellow at the Centre for Air Power Studies. Prior to this he was Group Captain in the IAF. He served the IAF for more than three decades in various capacities. He was Director Air Staff Inspections and retired as Director, Joint Control and Analysis Centre. The views expressed are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of Raksha Anirveda