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Aero India 2021 — world’s first ‘hybrid’ air show takes flight in Bengaluru this week

Top aviation & defence firms from around the world are expected to take part, either physically or virtually. India will showcase its indigenous capabilities.

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New Delhi: The world’s first ‘hybrid’ air show – Aero India – is set to be organised in Bengaluru from 3 to 5 February.

“This is the first-of-its-kind hybrid air show. This means that while people can attend the show in person, those who can’t make it due to Covid restrictions in their countries can attend it digitally,” a senior defence ministry official explained to ThePrint.

Sources explained that strict Covid protocols have been implemented, and those entering the exhibition will have to show a negative RT-PCR test taken on or after 31 January. 

Aero India will see the participation of top aviation firms, while India will showcase its indigenous defence capability, with an eye on Africa and the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) for the export of fighter jets, helicopters and missiles.

Apart from global aviation giants such as Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Dassault and Airbus, the show will also see the participation of top defence firms involved in the aviation sector including Thales, BAE Systems and missile manufacturer MBDA.

Another highlight of the three-day show will be India hosting the defence ministers of about 28 IOR countries, including Iran. India sees the IOR as a natural extension of its sphere of influence, and has gone from calling itself the next “security provider” in the region to the “preferred security partner”. 

Also read: IAF looks to lease mid-air refuellers amid critical shortage, seeks offers from Airbus, Boeing 

Big contracts likely at show

As reported earlier by ThePrint, Aero India is likely to witness some big contracts being inked, including one between the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for 83 Light Combat Aircraft (LCA). There is also a possibility that the deal for the indigenous Light Combat Helicopter will also be finalised.

Indian defence firms, both government and private, will also showcase their products and capabilities.

“India is not a pure buyer market anymore. A number of foreign delegations will be participating, eyeing the defence products that India can offer,” a second defence ministry official said. “For us, ‘atmanirbhar’ is not just about making for India, but also for the world.” 

ThePrint had, in August last year, reported that the Narendra Modi government is looking at countries in the IOR and Africa to push its indigenous defence systems.

A country-wise profile has been prepared to understand what each nation needs and how Indian products can be pushed.

India has offered fast patrol vessels, transport aircraft, fighters, helicopters and missiles for export. 

Also read: Tejas keeps India’s capability gap with China under check. It is HAL’s game to lose now


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