Aero In­dia 2017 Makes a Mark

With over 1,000 civil air­craft on or­der, about 400 fighter air­craft and 800 he­li­copters re­quire­ment, be­sides 5,000 he­li­copter en­gines in the next five to 10 years, the aerospace and de­fence sec­tor is go­ing to boom like never be­fore and the two sec­tors com

SP's MAI - - FRONT PAGE - [ By R. Chan­drakanth ]

The De­fence Min­is­ter Manohar Par­rikar in­au­gu­rated the 11th bi­en­nial edi­tion of Aero In­dia 2017 at Air Force Sta­tion Ye­la­hanka in Bengaluru on Fe­bru­ary 14. This edi­tion of Aero In­dia, for the first time, com­bined the de­fence and civil avi­a­tion seg­ments into a holis­tic event with the in­volve­ment of the de­fence and civil avi­a­tion min­istries. It is likely that the two bi­en­nial events — Aero In­dia which is held in Bengaluru and In­dia Avi­a­tion that is held in Hyderabad — will be­come one, though it has not been of­fi­cially an­nounced yet.

Par­rikar said that this edi­tion of Aero In­dia would wit­ness the emerg­ing dy­namism of de­fence man­u­fac­tur­ing in In­dia, espe­cially the ris­ing role of In­dian de­fence in­dus­try. He fur­ther stated that the gov­ern­ment is com­mit­ted to cre­at­ing an en­abling en­vi­ron­ment for a do­mes­tic ecosys­tem of de­fence man­u­fac­tur­ing, the re­sults of which were al­ready vis­i­ble. He added, “The de­fence pub­lic sec­tor un­der­tak­ings are be­ing re­vi­talised and en­cour­aged. Gov­ern­ment has also taken sev­eral ini­tia­tives for ease of do­ing busi­ness for pri­vate firms and ad­di­tional ini­tia­tives are un­der­way to sup­port the role of pri­vate sec­tor in de­fence man­u­fac­tur­ing.”

Stat­ing that the gov­ern­ment was go­ing ag­gres­sive on var­i­ous ini­tia­tives that would prop up the econ­omy, in­clud­ing ‘Make in In­dia’, ‘Start-up In­dia’, the De­fence Min­is­ter said that the fo­cus had shifted to start-ups, while the gov­ern­ment will not com­pro­mise on time­bound de­liv­ery of projects, to en­sure that the armed forces mod­erni­sa­tion was al­ways on track.

“The gov­ern­ment will en­cour­age man­u­fac­tur­ing, de­sign as well as in­no­va­tion in the field of de­fence man­u­fac­tur­ing. Con­di­tions have never been bet­ter than now for de­fence man­u­fac­tur­ing in In­dia and I hope it will make way for bet­ter tech­ni­cal en­hance­ment,” he said. There would be con­stant ef­forts to en­gage the for­eign orig­i­nal equip­ment man­u­fac­tures (OEMs), who he ac­knowl­edged had con­trib­uted sig­nif­i­cantly to en­hanc­ing In­dia’s aerospace and de­fence ca­pa­bil­i­ties. The gov­ern­ment, he said, was tak­ing mea­sures to en­sure that ease of busi­ness would im­prove to en­hance in­vest­ments, not only do­mes­tic but also in­ter­na­tional, in these sec­tors.

The Min­is­ter for Civil Avi­a­tion P. Ashok Ga­jap­athi Raju high­lighted that In­dia was the fastest grow­ing avi­a­tion sec­tor in pas­sen­ger terms in the world and held tremen­dous po­ten­tial to grad­u­ate from the present po­si­tion of be­ing ninth in the world to be­ing the third largest by 2022.

The in­au­gu­ral ad­dress was fol­lowed by three Mi-17 he­li­copters fly­ing past the dais in for­ma­tion car­ry­ing the flags of In­dia, the In­dian Air Force (IAF) and Aero In­dia. This edi­tion of Aero In­dia had to its credit the first ever pub­lic dis­play of light util­ity he­li­copter (LUH) and the hand­ing over by the De­fence Re­search and De­vel­op­ment Or­gan­i­sa­tion (DRDO) of the first in­dige­nous air­borne early warn­ing and con­trol (AEW&C) air­craft, the Em­braer ERJ-145, in the ini­tial op­er­a­tional clear­ance con­fig­u­ra­tion to the IAF.

The air show that fol­lowed had a fly-past by the ‘Make in In­dia’ for­ma­tion con­sist­ing of HTT40, Hawk-i, Dornier 228, Su-30MKI and the Te­jas light com­bat air­craft. This was fol­lowed by the fight­ers tear­ing through the skies dis­play­ing a host of aer­o­batic ma­noeu­vres — the Su-30MKI fol­lowed by Swe­den’s Saab Gripen, Te­jas LCA, the Amer­i­can F-16 Fal­con and the French Rafale. The Yakovlev aer­o­batic team, the Sky­cats, the Surya Ki­ran aer­o­bat­ics team and the Sarang he­li­copter dis­play team en­thralled the spec­ta­tors with their per­for­mance. An­other unique fea­ture of this air show was the 20-minute sor­tie by the Chief of the Air Staff, Air Chief Mar­shal Biren­der Singh Dhanoa, who flew in the Te­jas LCA trainer dur­ing the day.

Present on the oc­ca­sion were the Min­is­ter of State for De­fence, Dr Sub­hash Ram­rao Bhamre; the Min­is­ter of State for Civil Avi­a­tion Jayant Sinha, the three Ser­vice Chiefs of the Army, Navy and the Air Force, and the In­dus­tries Min­is­ter of Kar­nataka R.V. Desh­pande; Sec­re­tary De­fence Pro­duc­tion, Ashok Ku­mar Gupta; del­e­gates from sev­eral for­eign coun­tries, se­nior serv­ing of­fi­cers from the three Ser­vices, veter­ans, and se­nior ex­ec­u­tives from de­fence in­dus­tries.

In his wel­come ad­dress Ashok Ku­mar Gupta, Sec­re­tary De­fence Pro­duc­tion, said that Aero In­dia had carved a niche for it­self glob­ally as a premier aerospace ex­hi­bi­tion. The in­ter­est by the OEMs had in­creased as the gov­ern­ment had come out with poli­cies that were con­ducive for joint in­vest­ments.

Af­ter inau­gu­rat­ing the show, the De­fence Min­is­ter spent time un­der­stand­ing the ca­pa­bil­i­ties of In­dia’s first indigenously de­vel­oped AEW&C sys­tem. He also went in­side the Ne­tra AEW&C sys­tem, de­vel­oped by the DRDO and the Hin­dus­tan Aero­nau­tics Lim­ited (HAL), and other stalls.

In­dus­tri­al­ists Anil Am­bani flew on a Rafale fighter jet at the air show and pulled off 6G (ex­pe­ri­enc­ing six times the force of grav­ity) dur­ing his

“The gov­ern­ment will en­cour­age man­u­fac­tur­ing, de­sign as well as in­no­va­tion in the field of de­fence man­u­fac­tur­ing. Con­di­tions have never been bet­ter than now for de­fence man­u­fac­tur­ing in In­dia and I hope it will make way for bet­ter tech­ni­cal en­hance­ment.” – De­fence Min­is­ter Manohar Par­rikar

35-minute sor­tie. Das­sault Avi­a­tion, the man­u­fac­turer of Rafale, has forged a joint ven­ture with Am­bani’s Re­liance De­fence for car­ry­ing out its off­set obli­ga­tions bun­dled with the Rafale deal. Asked to sum up his fighter flight ex­pe­ri­ence, Am­bani said it was fas­ci­nat­ing and he wanted to fly many more times.

Sec­re­tary De­fence Pro­duc­tion Gupta was spot­ted at the BAE Sys­tems stand, get­ting a low­down on mo­du­lar bridg­ing sys­tems. He dis­cussed the util­ity of such sys­tems that can be de­ployed quickly to re­place in­fra­struc­ture in com­bat and for peace­time disas­ter re­lief. The sys­tems can be used for build­ing bridges in lengths up to 60 me­tres that can sup­port main bat­tle tanks and 110-tonne loaded tank trans­porters.

At a joint press con­fer­ence, the two min­is­ters talked about con­ver­gence of aerospace and de­fence. With over 1,000 civil air­craft on or­der, about 400 fighter air­craft and 800 he­li­copters re­quire­ment, be­sides 5,000 he­li­copter en­gines in the next five to 10 years, the aerospace and de­fence sec­tor is go­ing to boom like never be­fore and the two sec­tors com­ing to­gether is but nat­u­ral, said Par­rikar.

He said while in­di­geni­sa­tion would be the route, there would be sub­stan­tial con­tent from the for­eign OEMs as “we do not have those tech­nolo­gies.” The per­cent­age of in­di­geni­sa­tion con­tent can keep in­creas­ing as we progress. He was all praise for HAL which has kept to time­lines and the aerospace ma­jor would be out­sourc­ing work in large quan­ti­ties, thus gal­vanis­ing the emerg­ing pri­vate sec­tor. “We are ramp­ing up LCA pro­duc­tion and we would be adding an­other line of eight, from the present eight pro­duc­tion lines.” Dur­ing the cur­rent cal­en­dar year, there would be de­ci­sions on C295, sin­gle- and twin-en­gine fighter, etc.

Echo­ing sim­i­lar views, Ashok Ga­jap­athi Raju said con­sid­er­ing avi­a­tion growth, cur­rently over 20 per cent, and with more air­craft com­ing in and the Re­gional Con­nec­tiv­ity Scheme all set to take off, there would be ur­gent need to in­fuse a lot more in­vest­ment from within and with­out. “We are grow­ing at a pace where we will need to in­vite in­vest­ments from every­where.” In­dia is ex­pected to cat­a­pult from its rank­ing of nine in global avi­a­tion mar­ket to num­ber three by 2022.

The Min­is­ter of Civil Avi­a­tion said with avi­a­tion growth at over 20 per cent, there was go­ing to be strain on in­fra­struc­ture. “We are go­ing to add an­other 55 air­ports to the al­ready 75 op­er­a­tional air­ports in the next two years. The Air­ports Au­thor­ity of In­dia re­quires ` 17,500 crore in the next five years to de­velop the air­ports, in­clud­ing air nav­i­ga­tion sys­tems. This in­vest­ment will not be suf­fi­cient and we will have to in­vite in­vest­ments from across the globe.” Air cargo sec­tor is in its in­fancy and there are enor­mous busi­ness op­por­tu­ni­ties in this field.

This edi­tion of Aero In­dia saw the par­tic­i­pa­tion of 549 com­pa­nies with 53 air­craft present. The to­tal area of the show saw an in­crease from 24,403 square me­tres to 27,678 square me­tres this year. The gross area has also in­creased from 2,50,000 square me­tres to 2,60,000 square me­tres.

De­fence Min­is­ter Manohar Par­rikar, Min­is­ter for Civil Avi­a­tion P. Ashok Ga­jap­athi Raju, Min­is­ter of State for Civil Avi­a­tion Jayant Sinha, Min­is­ter of State for De­fence Sub­hash Ram­rao Bhamre, three Ser­vice Chiefs and other dig­ni­taries at the Aero In­dia 2017, at Ye­la­hanka Air Force Sta­tion in Bengaluru on Fe­bru­ary 14, 2017

(Be­low, L-R) Blaz­ing the sky: Das­sault Rafale per­form­ing a ma­noeu­vre over Ye­la­hanka Air Force Sta­tion in Bengaluru; HAL man­u­fac­tured light com­bat he­li­copter over Ye­la­hanka; (Bot­tom, L-R) IAF’s Su-30 MKI fly­ing at near su­per sonic ve­loc­ity and indigenously built LCA Te­jas in flight.

(Top, L-R) DRDO handed over the first in­dige­nous air­borne early warn­ing and con­trol (AEW&C) air­craft, the Em­braer ERJ-145, in the ini­tial op­er­a­tional clear­ance con­fig­u­ra­tion to the IAF; USAF C-130J Su­per Her­cules in flight; (Above, L-R) In­dian Army’s Ru­dra he­li­copters per­form­ing on Ye­la­hanka skies; Scan­di­na­vian Sky­cats per­form­ing an aer­o­batic act on Cat­walk dur­ing the show.

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