Indian defence sector will be highlight of Aero India 2021

Bengaluru’s sky will once again witness breathtaking manoeuvres as flying birds are back to perform their magic at the 13th edition of Aero India. The marquee aerospace business event will get under way on Wednesday in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The first global aerospace event in times of the pandemic, Aero India 2021 is being held as a hybrid version with focus on the virtual platform. This year’s event will mainly focus on India’s defence research and technology capabilities with public sector undertakings participating in full strength even as participants from abroad have declined drastically, making the event look muted in comparison to the previous editions. An ‘India Pavilion’ that showcases India’s strength is among the highlights.

On Tuesday, a full dress rehearsal saw the might of the Indian Air Force with the newly inducted Rafael, Tejas and Sukhoi 30 Mk1 in action. The famed aerobatic teams of Surya Kirans and Sarang put up an integrated display for the first time. The vintage Dakota also turned up.

The highlight of the event would be the Chiefs of Air Staff Conclave and IOR Defence Minister’s conclave. Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, which are in the process of establishing defence corridors, will make a pitch seeking investments, along with Karnataka, Telangana and Gujarat.

Though the total number of exhibitors has increased to 601 against 403 in the last edition, the number of foreign exhibitors is down from 165 to 78 this year. The number of foreign delegations is also down from 44 to 14. There are 248 virtual exhibitors at the event, which is largely out of bounds for the public. The participation is also low since not many big defence deals are expected to happen now, an exhibitor said.

The five-day event has been reduced to three days, leaving out the two public days that was the norm in the earlier editions. The flying display will be mostly from the Indian Air Force and HAL, and about 40 aircraft will participate. “Many companies, which had earlier confirmed their participation, withdrew later due to the pandemic scare,” said an IAF official.

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