Aero India 2019: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman inaugurates India’s premier air show, govt calls for investment in aerospace sector

In the 12th edition of Asia’s premier air show at the Yelahanka air base here, Sitharaman made a strong pitch for ‘Make in India” and referred to a slew of initiatives taken by the government, including permitting 100 per cent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Defence manufacturing.

Aero India 2019 begins in Bengaluru (Image: Ministry of Defence)

Aero India 2019, Yelahanka Air Force station: The 12th edition of the show which was inaugurated today by the defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman early morning will showcase India’s air defence prowess and manufacturing capabilities. There will be 61 aircraft on display and 403 exhibitors would be part of the Aero India show. More than 200 Foreign Companies are here to participate and witness the largest Aero Show of Asia.

Inviting investors to capitalise on aerospace and other sectors which can help manufacturing in India, the defence minister in her inaugural speech said that the show intends to put India on the global map, and metaphorically to be a “Runway to a billion opportunities”. It evinces India’s extraordinary progress and powers over the years in the sectors of civil and defence aviation.

Watch ANI Video: Aero India begins in Bengaluru

“It will show India’s prowess in defence and aviation over the years. Prime Minister Modi has repeatedly called Indian entrepreneurs to rise and help the manufacturing sector in India under the Make in India campaign.”

“The contribution in aerospace from this part of India (Bengaluru) is very high. We have released a coffee table book which shows the achievements of young start-ups. Start-ups are making a very big difference in the aerospace industry.”

During the inauguration, Union Minister of Civil Aviation, and Commerce & Industry, Suresh Prabhu announced “India will purchase 2,300 new airplanes. We are coming up with the strategy to set up the roadmap and ecosystem to improve the manufacturing destination in India.”

The Civil Aviation Minister said that “There are 103 airports and we want to build another 100 in coming years. We want to connect remote areas of the country to air, investing 65 billion dollars. Under the Udan, scheme, we launched a program to connect 235 new destinations.”

“India has introduced procedural reforms in defence manufacturing. We have space for everyone including of DPSUs, private firms and others. Aero India Show is a mega event that showcases India’s capabilities and strength in aerospace,” said Minister of State (MoS) for Defence Dr Subhash Bhamre at the inauguration of Aero India-2019.

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Ahead of the inauguration of the show which is expected to act as a platform for aviation companies, the defense sector and government to form new alliances and contracts, two-minute silence was observed to pay tributes to the pilot who died in yesterday’s crash.

For the first time there will be round table of Chief Executive Officers, Drone Olympics, Start-Up Manthan and celebration of women achievers. During the inauguration a flypast was conducted including Jaguar, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited’s indigenous Light Combat Aircraft `Tejas’ and Sukhoi 30 aircraft in the ‘missing man’ formation in honour of Wing Commander Sahil Gandhi, who died in the crash.

The aircraft of the Surya Kiran aerobatics team stood with their canopies covered on the runway behind the inaugural venue. The aircraft are not participating in the show due to the mishap.

The aerobatic display will feature Tejas. Besides the Tejas, the HTT-40 (Basic Trainer Aircraft), first indigenously upgraded Hawk Mk132- named as Hawk-i, Civil Do-228, Advanced Light Helicopter (Rudra), Light Utility Helicopter (LUH), Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) are scheduled to fly in the air show.

Aerobatic teams like India’s Sarang (ALH-Dhruv) and UK-based Yakovlevs are also expected to enthral the audience. On static display will be HAL’s Light Utility Helicopter (PT-1), Light Combat Helicopter (TD-2), Advanced Light Helicopter (Rudra) and ALH MICU (Medical Intensive Care Unit).

The Sukhoi SU-30, Rafale, F-16 Fighting Falcon, F/A-18 Super Hornet and the mighty B-52 Stratofortress bomber will be part of the air show.

India has established itself as a hub with proven capabilities of manufacturing and export of world class aerospace components, structures, avionics, technology, design, skills, innovations and now it has the potential and competence of end-to-end or as they say “nose-to-tail production”. The India Pavilion bears testimony to such tested capabilities of our country.

The ‘Make in India’ initiative of the Government has surged forward on the path of success due to several policy initiatives. Some of these policy initiatives include 100% FDI in Defence Manufacturing, Defence Offset Policy 2016, De-licensing of defence items, iDEX and Defence Investors Cell. The quintessential examples of the success are S 92 Helicopter cabin, Advanced Aircraft Cockpit, Glass Cockpit for Dornier and CH – 47 Pylon for Boeing which are displayed in the Indian Pavilion.

India has manufactured till date more than 4,000 aircrafts which include LCA, LCH, and ALH C295, etc. The robust defence supply chain in India would not have been possible without more than 10,000 MSMEs across the country which makes 80% of the components, aggregates and assemblies of complex weapon systems and aircrafts.

The emerging technologies like Artificial Intelligence and Robotics could perhaps turn out to be the most crucial factors in determining the futuristic defensive and offensive capabilities.

“India will strive to exploit these new technologies to give a cutting edge to our defence capabilities, specifically in the areas of aviation, naval, land systems, cyber, nuclear and biological warfare including both defensive and offensive needs,” Sitharaman added.

To mitigate dependence on imported technologies, Mission Raksha Gyan Shakti has been launched by Ministry of Defence to create greater capacity development and encourage greater filing of patents in defence and aerospace sectors. As has been reported earlier, as part of this initiative, 10,000 personnel of Defence Public Sector Undertakings are being trained and 1,000 new IP are proposed to be filed during 2018-19. While the Mission has started with Defence PSUs, the Government proposes to extend the Mission Raksha Gyan Shakti to the MSMEs and other industries working in the defence sector.

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