SAAB Gripen, Lockheed's F-21, Mikoyan MiG-35, Boeing's F-18 & Eurofighter Typhoon fighters

At a time when scheduled air shows around the world have been cancelled or postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the Ministry of Defence has been bullish about going ahead with Asia’s largest air show, Aero India.

Apart from announcing that Air Force Station Yelahanka would be the venue of Aero India 2021 in April itself when the country was in lockdown, the ministry last week opened up the registration for the air show.

In just five days, around 36 companies have registered to participate in the five-day air show, to be held between February 3 and 7.

Among those to register, a majority are Indian defence and aerospace companies with a mix from public and private sector undertakings like the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, Bharat Electronics Ltd and Alpha Design Technologies Pvt Ltd.

Companies from six foreign countries have also signed up. US aerospace major Boeing Russia’s Rosoboronexport JSC, Israel Aerospace Industries Ltd, Frances MBDA are among the foreign participants. About 60 sq mt of space has also been booked so far.

During the last edition of the show, 403 exhibitors had taken part with 165 foreign exhibitors from 22 countries.

With the Indian Air Force looking to procure 100-plus multi-role fighter aircraft, global companies are expected to bring their aircraft for display. So far, six have responded to the IAF’s Request for Information (RFI) — Boeing (F/A-18 Super Hornet), SAAB Aviation’s (Gripen), Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin (F-16 Fighting Falcon) and Russia’s MiG-35.

China is the only other country to go ahead with its planned aero show. China’s International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition is to be held in November at Zhuhai.