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Last Updated: May 15, 2007 - 2:05:15 AM
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Aero India 2007 will be India's biggest ever air show
Feb 4, 2007 - 12:18:03 PM
There will also be 49 chalets - dedicated space that 26 foreign and 23 Indian companies have reserved for displaying their products. This is an increase of 24 from the 2005 show.

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[RxPG] Bangalore, Feb 4 - The stage is set for the inaugural here Wednesday of India's biggest international air show that will see the participation of over 400 companies, including global aviation majors from 28 nations.

About 100 civilian and military aircraft, including frontline F-16 and F-18 combat jets, will feature at the sixth edition of the five-day Aero India international aerospace and defence exhibition that concludes Feb 11.

Aero India, which Defence Minister A.K. Antony will inaugurate, will also feature two conferences of note. The first will see air force chiefs of 30 countries, including the US, Britain, Germany, Australia, the Ukraine and South Africa, participating in an aerospace seminar being hosted by the Indian Air Force - as part of its platinum jubilee celebrations.

The other will be an international conference on aviation that will discuss issues like developing world-class infrastructure at airports, IT applications at airports, and aircraft repair and maintenance.

Not unexpectedly, the focus is likely to be on the two US fighters as their manufacturers Lockheed Martin and Boeing aggressively position the planes for an IAF order for 126 aircraft to ramp up its depleting force levels. Both companies are sending large delegations of senior executives to push the aircraft and their other cutting edge technology products.

While a decision on the order might not be taken immediately - it has been pending since 2001 - Indian defence planners will for the first time get an opportunity to examine at close quarters the relative merits and demerits of the two jets, with the manufacturers planning to take aloft select dignitaries on the planes.

This is not to detract from the other 418 participants - 252 from abroad and 166 from India - who will be showcasing an array of aircraft, weaponry and equipment catering to both military and civilian markets.

Given the fact that 70 percent of India's military hardware has been acquired from Russia, it is not surprising that the maximum foreign participation is from that country with 47 companies, including giants like Sukhoi, MiG, Kamov, FGUP NPP and Rosoboron Export to name just a few.

Russia will also showcase its MiG-29M it hopes to sell to the Indian Navy for deployment on its newly acquired aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, which is currently being refitted in a Russian shipyard.

But with India increasingly looking westwards for military hardware, and given the size of this country's burgeoning civil aviation market, the 43 French participants constitute the second largest foreign block.

Be it GIFAS, Thales, Snecma, Dassault, or Arienaspace, the represent the creme del a creme of the French civilian and military aircraft industry.

With 30, the US will also have a major presence at the show - backed by the Department of Defence. Apart from the F-18, for which Boeing has offered joint production, the company will also be displaying the C-17 Globemaster transport and the Chinook CH-47 troop transport helicopter, as also the P8I maritime reconnaissance aircraft - it has offered to the Indian Navy.

Lockheed Martin, apart from F-16, will be pitching the Hercules C130J and the Orion P3 MRA it hopes to sell to the Indian Navy.

The focus of the Indian participation will, undoubtedly be on state-owned aircraft major Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd -, which will showcase a full scale mock up of a light combat helicopter - it is designing, along with the previously displayed Tejas Light Combat Aircraft -, the Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter - and the Intermediate Jet trainer -.

'HAL will use Aero India as an ideal platform to forge ties in a couple of new ventures, including that of the multi-role transport aircraft -, a medium-lift helicopter, MRO - for civil aircraft, and the design, development and manufacture of unmanned aerial vehicles -,' its chairman Ashok Baweja said of the show.

Of the military aircraft on display, eight foreign manufacturers will showcase 34 machines and Indian companies another 22, according to Secretary - K.P. Singh.

'The aim of the show is two-fold. It will give Indian manufacturers an opportunity to showcase their products to a global audience and give foreign manufacturers a platform aimed at the domestic civilian and military market,' he said.

'The best of what is available in the world will be on view,' Singh said, pointing out that international participation had increased 45 percent and that of domestic companies by 40 percent over the last edition of the show in 2005.

Held at the Yelahanka air force base adjacent to Bangalore, the Aero India show has undergone a transformation since the first edition in 1996. Five new hangars of 1,320 sq metres each have been added this year to take the total available exhibition space to a massive 250,000 sq metres.

There will also be 49 chalets - dedicated space that 26 foreign and 23 Indian companies have reserved for displaying their products. This is an increase of 24 from the 2005 show.

Also for the first time, Aero India organiser Department of Defence Production has roped in the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry - to ensure more meaningful participation by domestic companies. FICCI in turn has brought in Farnborough International Ltd as the event manager.

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