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UP DefExpo gaffe — Turkish helicopter for Pakistan on posters showcasing Make in India

DefExpo in Lucknow also invites criticism on Day One for poor arrangements at the much-publicised tent city for VIP guests. Nail found protruding from bathroom floor.

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Lucknow: In an embarrassment for the Yogi Adityanath government, its posters welcoming delegates to the five-day DefExpo 2020 in Lucknow feature as a ‘Make in India’ showcase a helicopter that Turkey has made for its close ally Pakistan.

The Uttar Pradesh capital is hosting India’s biennial defence exhibition starting Wednesday.

The pictures are of the T-129 two-seater attack helicopter — manufactured by Turkish Aerospace Industries (TAI) in collaboration with Italian-British AgustaWestland. To make matters worse for the UP government, the helicopter in the picture even has a Turkish flag on it.

Asked about the gaffe, an official said on condition of anonymity, “The poster has not been put by the Ministry of Defence but by the UP government.”

Lucknow, which is the constituency of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, is set to host Prime Minister Narendra Modi, several Union ministers, CEOs of defence companies, diplomats, among others, for the event.

Also read: India’s joint military theatre command process to finish in 3 years, says CDS Bipin Rawat

T-129 choppers and Pakistan

In response to India’s purchase of the Apache attack helicopters from the US, Pakistan had signed a $1.5-billion contract with Turkey in 2018 for buying 30 T-129 choppers.

However, the deal flew into rough weather after the US refused to give a technology export licence to Turkey for the sale to Islamabad. Since the engines of the choppers are jointly manufactured by the US firm Honeywell and British company Rolls-Royce, US’ permission was needed for the helicopter to be exported to a third country.

The Turkish government has now tasked Tusas Engine Industries, TAI’s sister company, with developing an indigenous engine for the T-129, Defence News said in a report last month.

India and Turkey’s relations have nosedived over the Kashmir issue since the Modi government scrapped Article 370 in August and bifurcated the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir into two Union Territories. Turkey has issued multiple statements criticising the move.

Tent city — bathrooms have nails on floor but no hot water

The Uttar Pradesh government’s embarrassment at the DefExpo didn’t end at the chopper blunder.

Its much-publicised tent city, set up to cater to the large number of visitors to Lucknow, also proved to be a flop Tuesday. Several visitors, including foreign diplomats, are facing issues at the temporary city, where prices for tents were initially kept at over Rs 20,000 per night.

A view of the tent city at the DefExpo 2020 in Lucknow. | Photo: Special arrangement
A view of the tent city at the DefExpo 2020 in Lucknow. | Photo: Special arrangement

“Despite paying such high cost, hot water is supplied for specific hours. And yesterday, there was no hot water in the morning during the specified hours,” a diplomat staying at the tent city told ThePrint Wednesday.

Another foreign visitor said he had a narrow escape from a nail protruding from the bathroom floor in his VIP tent.

A protruding nail in a bathroom at one of the tents at the DefExpo 2020 in Lucknow. | Photo: Special arrangement
A protruding nail in one of the tents at the DefExpo 2020 in Lucknow. | Photo: Special arrangement

“The MoD was very keen that we take the tent city and that is exactly what we have done. We were told it would be a Kumbh experience but has not been any good experience at all,” said a second diplomat who didn’t wish to be named.

The Adityanath government came up with the tent city due to the limited number of hotels in Lucknow to cater to thousands of diplomats, officials and top executives of defence firms.

Also read: Only 1.82% hike in defence budget could hurt military acquisition & modernisation plans


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  1. – At $50M per chopper, T-129 ain’t a good bargain for Pak : even EC-665 Tiger is cheaper, and EC-665 is a stealth chopper!!!
    – Better consider having a good EDC (every-day carry) kit when you travel. There are nice Leatherman multitools with a file and a saw in to deal with nails through the floor. If you’re on budget (leatherman multitools are pretty expensive), Morpilot does some pretty nice quality ones for cheap, but they’re much heavier as well, Leathermann use a lot of titanium while Morepilot uses mainly steel.
    I’m going NOWHERE without a Multitool or a Swiss-Army knife in my backpack and the Mikov Predator M241ND5 (or the Kershaw 6055) in my pocket. I also carry a small pocket with the Chowlite folding spoon+fork, a Lanky sharpener, tweezers and a pair of stainless chopsticks. There is other stuff in my backpack, e.g. a super-compact folding umbrella to protect me for rain, rubbers to avoid AIDS/STDs, etc etc etc…
    You really must be an idiot to travel without and effective EDC gear. If we had the 2nd amendment, I’d probably carry a Khar K9 or Glock-26, since it’s not the case here, I carry a CS-gel spray (avoid pepper spray, it’s useless!) and a small flashlight which is also a 2.8 millions Volts electric shocker so I can deal with aggressors unless I face a firearm.

  2. UP is a dud because of these and thousands of other flaws. India minus UP and Bihar would have been a ten trillion $ economy by now.

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