Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Bangalore: India’s largest-ever air show, Aero India-2009, opens here on Wednesday with participation by frontline fighter aircraft from the United States, Europe and Russia, all of whom are in the race for the Union Government’s plans to acquire multi-role combat aircraft.
The Americans have flown-in the F16 (Lockheed Martin) and have been providing “sorties” to people before it flies Olympian Abhinav Bindra, while Boeing will showcase its F/A18 Hornet.
MiG 35
Europe plans to pitch the “Typhoon” while the Russians are here with the MiG 35 with an ad line, “For India, with India”, plastered across billboards here. The French Rafael and Swedish Grippen will also mark their presence.
Supporting these efforts while building defence relations, British High Commissioner Richard Staag and U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission Steven J. White addressed the media here on Tuesday, while French Minister of State for Defence Jean-Marie Bockel plans to do so on Wednesday after Defence Minister A.K. Antony inaugurates the show.
These frontline fighters are in the bidding for India’s plans to purchase 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft worth Rs. 45,000 crore. Their spectacular display is a show stealer. The biennial event has this year attracted a record 592 companies, including 303 from 25 countries, exhibiting their products over 44,000 square metres expanse.
Being held under high security cover and strict access controls, the event will have 289 Indian companies with Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) showcasing its successful bid to supply seven advanced light helicopters to Ecuador at the air show. Mr. Antony will be handing over the keys to the Ecuadorian Air Chief on the occasion, symbolising the execution of HAL’s first export order.
However, the HAL’s plan to fly Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) fell off the shelf following a mishap here last week. Pradeep Kumar, Defence Secretary (Production), sought to downplay the change in plans owing to the setback at a news conference here stating that HAL is still testing the product and not yet ready to fly now. The completely indigenised British trainer Hawk will also be part of the display.India-Russia joint venture missile Brahmos is on display as have many Indian companies which have joint ventures with other leading manufactures..
11/02/09 K.V. Prasad/The Hindu

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