- February 24, 2015, 1:18 PM
Last week's Aero Industry even was the biggest in the show's history. (Photo: Indian Ministry of Defence)
While no major defense deals were signed at the Aero India show last week, it was clear that medium and small companies in India’s aerospace industry are starting to make their presence felt. More than 500 buyers and suppliers were at the show, which had a “Make in India” theme that was strongly promoted by Prime Minister Narendra Modi when he inaugurated the event.
This was the biggest show since its inception with 33 countries participating. Sixty-four of those companies hailed from the U.S.; 58 came from France. There were 48 companies from the UK, 41 from Russia, 25 from Israel and 17 from Germany. All of them expressed support for the ‘Make in India’ theme. Seven of the 11 foreign military aircraft on display were from the U.S.: two F-15C Eagles; two F-16C Fighting Falcons, a Boeing KC-135 tanker, a C-17 and a P-8A.
Dassault brought one single- and two twin-seat Rafales. Responding to speculation that Dassault preferred a private partner to manufacture the Rafale, HAL chairman T. Suvarna Raju said the Indian state-owned company “is the lead production agency [for MMRCA], which gives us [the rights] for manufacture, testing…we don’t want others to stand guarantee for our product.” The final negotiations on the Rafale are said to have been held up by French concerns about liability for the 108 aircraft that are planned to be produced in India. A few days after the show, a French delegation led by defense minster Jean-Yves Le Drian held talks with their Indian counterparts in Delhi.
Defense news from the show included:
· Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) delivered the 75th BAE Systems Hawk jet trainer produced under license by for the Indian Air Force. BAE signed a five-year contract worth $27.8 million to provide HAL with a comprehensive package comprising ground support equipment, spares, training and other support for the Hawk.
· The Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) announced that the Indian Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) is close to certification. The DRDO also noted the wheeled version of Nishant UAV had been demonstrated.
· The first Embraer ERJ-145 AEW&C aircraft for the IAF was on show. It is presently undergoing trials. According to K Tamilmani, chief controller R&D (Aero), DRDO, the second one will incorporate changes following the IAF’s recommendations.
· Yuri Slyusar, president of the United Aircraft Corporation, said the serviceability of Russian defense equipment sold to India is a priority. An integrated program for the organization of training, repair work and the delivery of spare parts to warehouses is in progress. As for the two major Russian-Indian aircraft development programs, he said: “We are moving from the preliminary design to the main design stages…of the fifth-generation fighter jet and medium-range transport aircraft.” The first test launch of the jointly-developed BrahMos air-launched missile from a Su-30MKI of the IAF, is scheduled for March.