Asia's Biggest Air Show Off to a Flying Start in Bangalore
Asia's premier airshow, Aero India 2013 got off to a flying start at Yelahanka air base here with Defence Minister A K Antony pitching for self-reliance and scaling up defence industrial base at home and also encouraged foreign aerospace firms to tap opportunities in India.

The inauguration of the five-day biennial event was marked by a scintillating flying display but the absence of some fighter aircraft from the previous edition seemed to have taken some punch off the show, probably reflecting the mood of the global defence industry, which is forecast to shrink.

There seemed to be less excitement at Yelahanka air base, compared to the last edition with lesser number of aircraft participating though the number of participating countries and companies matched that in 2011. Scaling down of presence by some foreign companies was striking.

Three Mi-8 helicopters trooped in with the national flag, IAF ensign and Aero India flag just before Antony inaugurated the event, witnessed by a galaxy of officials, industry delegates, exhibitors and representatives from India and abroad. Aero India 2013 is showcasing the latest international technology in the fields of military and civil aircraft, avionics and sub-systems, as well as radars in the defence and aerospace sector.

The flying display commenced with a graceful entry of the Tiger Moth aircraft, which was resurrected recently as part of the IAF vintage flight.

The 'de Havilland DH82 'Tiger Moth' is a two-seat, single bay biplane powered by a 145 hp Gypsy Major four cylinder inverted air-cooled engine. It was the primary trainer aircraft for the Royal Air Force in the Second World War and was also the basic trainer aircraft in IAF right from 1940.

"Flying Bulls", considered as one of the world's leading aerobatic display team from the Czech Republic, performed at the airshow, enthralling the audience, as also French fighter Rafale and Lockheed Martin's F-16 Falcon and "Sarang", the helicopter display team of IAF.

Flying Bulls is one of the most accomplished European aerobatics team. It has been a member of the Red Bull family. The Flying Bulls aerobatics team consists of four pilots and they presented formation aerobatics of great precision.

"Self reliance in defence area is our focus area," Antony said in his inaugural address at the biennial event. "We want to create a strong defence industrial base in the country."

He said India has put in place a road-map in the form of defence production policy and is encouraging the country's public and private sector industries to become active partners in such endeavours.

"There are big opportunities for major international aerospace companies to enter into new alliances and forge partnerships with Indian industry and set up bases in India," Antony said.

Aero India 2013 will project India's emergence as a fast growing and an attractive market as well as a key outsourcing hub for global aerospace firms, Antony said.

Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh, Minister of State for Defence Jitendra Singh, Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne, Karnataka Chief Minister Jagadish Shettar, Defence Secretary Shashi Kant Sharma, Defence Production Secretary R K Mathur, Defence (R&D) Secretary V K Saraswat and FICCI chief Naina Lal Kidwai were among those present at the inaugural ceremony.

This ninth edition of the biennial air show and aviation exhibition is organised by Defence Ministry along with Indian Air Force, Defence Research and Development Organisation, Department of Space and Civil Aviation Ministry, aims at showcasing the range of products and services offered by the Indian defence industry in the international market.

It also provides an exposure to Indian Armed Forces, R&D personnel and young engineers, to the latest technologies and advancements in the aviation and aerospace industries.

More than 600 companies from India and overseas are participating in the event.

Major participants are companies from the US, Israel, Russia, France, the UK, Germany and Belgium, Bulgaria, Italy, Ukraine, Australia, Belarus, Czech Republic, Japan, Norway, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland, Austria, Brazil, Canada, Netherlands, Romania, Sweden, the UAE and Singapore.

The leader of the Indian representation (DRDO - ADA) with the largest indoor and outdoor area of about 2561 sq m is closely followed by HAL, BEL and TATA.

The largest international participation indoor (area-wise) is by the US and outdoor by EADS. The US is followed by Israel and Russia in this category. Maximum participants from any single country is from the US, followed by France, the UK, Russia, Germany, Israel and Belgium.

A total of 27 countries are participating with 10 country pavilions namely Belgium, Bulgaria, Italy, Israel, Russia, Germany, France, the US, the UK and Ukraine.
Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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