The upcoming Aero India show is billed as the ”Runway to a Billion Opportunities”. The theme of the event resonates with Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s vision for Atmanirbhar Bharat. The Aero India 2021, a biennial air show that provides a platform for aerospace companies to showcase their products and services is scheduled to be held from February 3 to 5 February at the Yelahanka Air Force Station in Bengaluru. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the three day event is unique as it will be the world’s first hybrid show, which means delegates would be present either physically or virtually.

According to the Ministry of Defence (MoD), exhibitors, companies and other businesses can also participate remotely. Exhibitors can interact with virtual visitors through video/chat/SMS or email. “There will be facilities to track details of virtual visitors who visited your stall, schedule online B2B meetings with them and also participate in conferences,” an official said. There will be a QR code to exchange business cards, report cleanliness issues or give feedback. “Exhibitors and visitors will be able to experience everything that a person present at the venue does. They’ll even have access to show dailies and other digital repositories,” the official said.

There are 171 virtual exhibitors and over 50 foreign nations that will be represented at the show with the event being a complete sell-out. The pandemic has forced organisers to restrict visitors at the venue: Only 15,000 will be allowed in the exhibition area while those at the air display viewing area will be limited to 3,000.

Watch Aero India Virtually For Free

The MoD has done away with the Rs 1,000 fee the public needed to pay to virtually watch the 13th edition of Aero India. The general public can watch the show for free. “Once people register on the portal, they will have access to various virtual exhibitions, inauguration and other aspects of the show online,” said the official.

IOR Defence Ministers Conclave

During the Aero India event, India will host the Defence Ministers of the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) conclave on 4 February, focusing on security concerns and collaborative efforts. Its theme will be ‘Enhanced peace, security and cooperation in the Indian Ocean’. India has sent invites to 28 countries of the IOR with the option of attending physically or virtually. The conclave will be followed by two seminars by the Indian Navy and with the Indian Coast Guard and Invest India being co-opted in the later, on cooperation in the IOR.

The conclave assumes significance in the backdrop of China’s increasing military presence in the Indian Ocean. The IOR is of strategic importance to India, which sees the region as a natural extension of its sphere of influence. India has gone from calling itself the next “security provider” to “net security provider” in the region. As part of SAGAR (Security And Growth for All in the Region), India undertook COVID-related outreach programmes to provide food and medical aid, vaccines as a gift to IOR nations.

India also hopes to sell some indigenously developed defence equipment to the countries of the IOR. Indian companies will be displaying defence platforms for export like TEJAS fighter jets, a range of helicopters, air defence systems like Akash.

DRDO To Showcase Over 300 Products

Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) is set to exhibit its latest defence technologies and demonstrate many systems during the event. Over 30 laboratories of DRDO connected to aeronautical development will exhibit their products and technological achievements in this mega event.

“More than 300 products, technologies and innovations are being presented in indoor, outdoor, static and flying displays. The models and exhibits are shown in various technology categories and thrust is on the digital display of data to highlight the product details,” the press release said.

The major attraction of DRDO’s participation in the event is the flying display of Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) system, Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) TEJAS and TEJAS Navy. The highlights of indoor systems include Combat Free Fall System, models of Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA), ABHYAS – High-speed Expendable Aerial Target, Twin Engine Deck Based Fighter (TEDBF), FCS System for LCA and Aerostat Systems. The displays will also include Nirbhay missile and full-scale models of various Surface to Air missiles like Astra, LRSAM, QRSAM, Air to Air Missile Astra, Anti-Radiation Missile NGARM and Smart Anti Airfield Weapon SAAW are being shown.

HAL To Demonstrate Aatmanirbhar Spirit

The state-run aviation major, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) will showcase its prowess in defence and aerospace, centred on the theme ‘Conceive. Indigenise. Collaborate’ at the event. HAL’s major attraction will be the Combat Air Teaming System simulator. The simulator will have TEJAS–MAX cockpit as the mother-ship platform with the embedded air teaming intelligence concepts to demonstrate the fully integrated platforms and swarming of drones to engage in the mission.

Five of HAL’s indigenous aircraft are set to fly in formation in a unique display titled ‘Aatmanirbhar Formation Flight’ during air show. The formation will comprise Light Combat Aircraft trainer (LIFT Trainer), HTT-40, Intermediate Jet Trainer, Advanced Hawk MK-132 and Civil Dornier Do-228, which will fly in a special formation, showcasing the spectrum of trainers and signifying self-sufficiency in the trainer segment. Sukhoi Su-30MKI, Advanced Light Helicopter Dhruv, Light Combat Helicopter, Light Utility Helicopter will also take part in the flying display separately.

HTT-40, Advanced Hawk Mk 132 and Civil Dornier Do-228 will also be available for customer demonstration flights at the three-day event. The static display will include Dornier Do-228, Hindustan Turbo Trainer-40 and LUH and DHRUV MK-III. The outdoor display adjacent to HAL stall will feature rotary wing products, namely LCH, DHRUV MK-IV Rudra and ALH Civil variant. With the central theme of the India Pavilion being rotary-wing capabilities in India, HAL’s rotary platform Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) will be the centrepiece of the display.

According to organisers, 41 aircraft would participate in the flight display on an inaugural day while there would be 63 aircraft on static display. The key attractions would be the display by Surya Kiran aircraft and Sarang helicopters.

As per MoD, the indigenous technological and logistic prowess will be to the fore and the event will embolden domestic aerospace and defence industries, start-ups, MSMEs to forge partnerships with foreign OEMs.