Bengaluru, Feb 09: The Ministry of Defence (MoD) on Monday blew the conch for the 10th edition of Aero India 2015. It is now confirmed that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will chant newer mantras to attract more devotees towards the Make in India ‘temple of hope.' Modi will inaugurate the five-day show in Bengaluru, being branded as the biggest ever, from February 18.
Addressing a group of aerospace and defence journalists via video conferencing from Delhi, Mohan Kumar, Secretary Defence Production, said that besides aerospace, defence and civil aviation, this edition will also showcase sectors like defence manufacturing and airport infrastructure. The biennial event is organised by the Defence Exhibition Organisation (DEO), under the command and control of the MoD.
"Among the many firsts of this year's event will be an Investors' Summit and Global CEOs' Conference with focus on Make in India. The event will be chaired by Defence Minister (Manohar Parrikar). There will be around 300 CEOs (150 each from India and abroad) attending this year's show," Mohan Kumar said.
He said the gross area has doubled from 125000 sq.m in 2013 to 250000 sq.m in 2015. "We are expecting 1,50,000 business visitors against 1,00,000 in the previous show," Kumar said.
Will the show stay in Bengaluru next time?
To a specific question from OneIndia, whether the next edition of Aero India (2017) will be moved out of Bengaluru, Kumar said: "We have no idea." However, sources said that one group of officials within the MoD, backed by a section of aerospace and defence industry, are batting for a shift in the venue from next time. Bengaluru's growing infrastructure, the high-rise buildings, sky-rocketing rentals, limited possibility to expand the show area at Air Force Station Yelahanka are some of the factors cited for this thought process.
Make in India and MoD's role
To another query whether the MoD is willing to go the extra mile to support the private industries to jump on to the Make in India wagon, Kumar said: "Make in India is still in the initial stages. Leading industries will be willing to come onboard without any hesitation. We are ready to help the MSMEs. The level of indigenisation is not very satisfactory in defence. The offset is also not moving on the designed line. We are now trying to create a data of capable Indian industries," Kumar said.
US leading participant
The United States is a leading participant with 64 companies, while France comes second with 58 companies, followed by UK (48), Russia (41), Israel (25), Germany (17) among others. There are 33 countries participating at this edition of the show compared to 29 in 2013. MoD says China will not be participating this time.
Besides 54 ministerial and other high-level delegations from several countries that are slated to attend the inaugural event, the exhibition will also see participation by over 600 companies, including 295 Indian and 328 foreign companies.
US Special Forces make an entry
The number of aircraft participating in static and air displays is tentatively 72, but the officials say that this could breach the century mark in the next one week. In addition to the popular Sarang aerobatic team from the Indian Air Force, air display teams from the Scandinavian Air Show Team (Sweden), Aero Superbatics Limited and Airborne Service Limited (both from UK), Flying Bulls Aerobatic Team (Czech Republic) and the Open Sky Jump Team (US Special Forces) are ready to adorn the star status during the show. The Russian Knights aerobatic team, which was a major hit during Aero India 2013, will be missing in action this time.
The Indian flying team will have LCH, Tejas, Dhruv, Rudra, Sukhoi and Tiger Moth. Among the foreign military aircraft that will be seen at the air show include F-15C Eagle, Lockheed F-16C, Boeing KC-135, Boeing C-17, Rafale and Embraer EMB-145I. The foreign civil aircraft participation includes PC-12 NG, Falcon 2000, Phenom 100E, Boeing B 75, Boeing A 75, Viking, Catwalk, WASP, RRJ 95, EMB 505, Bell 407 GX Helicopter, King Air 350 ER, 19-seater Turbo Prop AI Industry, Z Lin Z 50 LX, OmaSud Sky Car, Falcon 7 X and Dornier 228-New Gen.
24x7 ticket counter at KIAL
According to Mayaskar Deo Singh, Director, DEO, a 24x7 ticket counter has been opened at the Kempegowda International Airport. "Tickets can be purchased only via online and there's no option for cash payment. Ticket sale windows are already open at all Axis Bank branches. Parents are advised not to bring toddlers and young children. With the military jets spitting ear-splitting noise, it will be even unsafe for pregnant women to attend the show," says Singh.
He wanted the general public to strictly public to strictly follow the sign boards to avoid traffic congestion.
MoD spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said that the media registration for this year's show has crossed all previous records.
(With inputs from Group Capt T K Singha, MoD. Photos: Basani Satheesh Kumar, MoD)
(The writer is a seasoned aerospace and defence journalist in India. He is the Consultant Editor (Defence) with OneIndia. He tweets @writetake.)