Dazzling fly-past, daring aerobatics mark Aero India launch (Lead)

February 9th, 2011 - 3:29 pm ICT by IANS  

F-16 Bangalore, Feb 9 (IANS) A spectacular flying display and breathtaking aerobatics in formations by Indian Air Force (IAF) pilots marked the launch of Asia’s biggest air show Aero India-2011 here on a sunny Wednesday.Soon after Defence Minister A.K. Antony declared open the eighth edition of the biennial aerospace and aviation trade expo at the air force base near Yelahanka on the outskirts of this aerospace hub, VIPs and invitees were treated to an hour-long fly-past involving supersonic and sub-sonic fighters, trainer jets and helicopters.

India’s indigenous and world’s smallest light-weight combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas in an arrow formation and aerobatics was the star attraction at the inaugural event for the fighter’s agility and maneuverability.

After the transport aircraft AN-32 flanked by two Dornier flew past the runway in a small boy formation, nine Surya Kiran sub-sonic trainers took off for various formations and aerobatics, belching a trail of smoke in Indian tri colours.

Even as the select gathering waited for the return of Surya Kirans to perform dazzling feats, including rollovers and signature tunes, the indigenous Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT) of the state-run defence behemoth Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) flew over, followed by five Jaguars in arrow formation and three Sukhoi fighters in trident (’Trishul’) formation.

Among the choppers were the HAL’s light combat helicopter (LCH) and its flagship product advanced light helicopter (ALH), which flew in formation as a Sarang team.

The awesome flying and aerobatic display of the medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA) by five of the six global aerospace majors - which are in race for the IAF’s multi-billion dollar order for 126 metal birds - held the audience spellbound and kept them gazing at the sky despite a beating sun.

The fourth generation supersonic fighters that displayed their air prowess are European consortium EADS’ Eurofighter Typhoon, US majors Boeing’s F/A-18 and Lockheed Martin’s F-16s, Swedish SAAB’s Gripen and Dasault’s Rafale.

The sixth contender — Russian MiG-35 — was conspicuous by its absence.

Hosted by the defence ministry’s exhibition organisation in partnership with the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), the five-day event has attracted about 40 international delegations and 675 exhibitors.

This number includes 380 from 30 countries and 295 domestic firms which will showcase their latest aerospace technologies and products for Indian and international markets.

Official delegations from the big five - Britain, Germany, France, Russia and the US - have also come acalling to promote their global aerospace majors for collaborations, partnerships and joint ventures with Indian state-run and private enterprises.

“The US delegation, led by Assistant Secretary of State for Political-Military Affairs Andrew J. Shapiro, is the largest with 250 members, including officials, chief executives and experts in the field at the aero show,” the official said.

Other major delegations will be from Germany with 35 members and Italy 10.

Eight countries — Belgium, Britain, France, Germany, Israel, Italy, Russia and the US — have put up dedicated pavilions for their respective aerospace companies and organisations.

About 70,000 business delegates from 70 countries are expected to make a beeline to the military and civil aviation trade show, while a whopping 275,000 general visitors are set to throng the venue for witnessing the static and flying display.

About 100 military and civil aircraft, including 47 foreign planes and different helicopters, have landed for static or flying display.

The revival of the civil aviation post-recession is evident from its participation, overtaking military aviation 54 percent and the defence sector accounting for the remaining 46 percent.

This year’s air show will outnumber all previous figures in terms of participating countries, companies, space and business, with 70 percent increase in gross exhibition area to 75,000 square metres from 44,000 square metres in 2009.

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