firms to go full throttle at Indian aero expo
Bangalore, Feb 9 (IANS) Riding high on the winds of change
in India-US ties since the signing of the civilian nuclear
deal, American aerospace prowess will be at full throttle
during the Aero India-2009 international air show beginning
"The US will be the largest participant at Aero India
2009 in terms of space taken up to showcase an array of military
and civilian aircraft for static and flying displays. With
a huge contingent, our presence will be larger than at any
previous Indian air show," a US consulate official told
Though the number of US firms participating in the five-day
biannual event at 22 is lower than that of other countries,
the presence of its aerospace majors such as Lockheed Martin,
Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Raytheon, General Dynamics and Bell
Helicopter with their fleet of fighter jets, transport planes,
helicopters, hi-tech equipment and products will be a major
attraction and show of strength.
"Our participation in a big way highlights the US administration's
commitment to increase defence cooperation with India and
the importance it places in international defence arena. Besides
top military leaders and defence department officials, top
officials of aerospace firms will be present at the event,"
the official said, requesting anonymity.
Owing to security and operational reasons, detailed information
on the products and technologies being showcased and marketed
by the participating firms have not been made public.
Lockheed's F-16 and Boeing's F/A-18F Super Hornet are in a
hot race to win the Indian Air Force (IAF) contract for 126
medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA). Both have flown
in a couple of the combat-proven strike fighters for static
and aerial demos with a full weapons payload involving breath-taking
maneouvres twice a day at the Yelahanka air force station,
20 km from the city.
Vying with F-16 and F-18 in displaying air power will be Eurofighter
Typhoon of EADS (European Aeronautic Defence and Space), Gripen
of Saab, French Rafale of Dassault and Russian MiG-35 of MiG
for the lucrative IAF order, estimated at about $10 billion
(Rs.500 billion/Rs.50,000 crore).
"India's growing aero-space and defence industry offers
significant opportunities for growth and productivity. Our
participation will underscore our commitment to India and
foster stronger ties with our Indian customers and partners,"
said Boeing India president Ian Thomas in a statement.
The recent comments of secretary (defence production) Pradeep
Kumar that the global meltdown would not impact India's military
modernisation have reassured the global aerospace industry
of the market potential in the sub-continent.
India plans to purchase military hardware valued at Rs.1.4
trillion ($30 billion) over the next five years.
"The global meltdown is a reality but India's military
modernisation will continue as before. There is no question
of scaling down our modernisation plans," Kumar said
in New Delhi Feb 2.
In this context, the signing of the biggest-ever military
deal with the US on Jan 5 for eight Boeing P8I long-range
maritime reconnaissance aircraft for the Indian Navy has encouraged
the global firm to pitch for more such deals from the Indian
Boeing's programme manager for airborne anti-submarine warfare
and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance Richard
Buck will highlight the salient features of P-8I and P-8 reconnaissance
The P8I, which is based on the Boeing-737 platform, has been
specifically developed for the Indian Navy's requirements.
The aircraft, which is still in the conception stage, is expected
to fly by 2012.
The Boeing exhibit will also feature models of its commercial
jets such as 787 Dreamliner, planes of the 777 family, the
747-8, freighter series and the next-generation 737 family,
besides a range of products and services.
Boeing's rival Lockheed, which has bagged the $1-billion order
for six C-130J Super Hercules aircraft for the Indian Air
Force in early 2008, has roped in Indian ace shooter and Olympics
gold medallist Abhinav Bindra to fly in the F-16 at the air
Bindra will become the third high-profile Indian personality
to fly as a 'co-pilot' in a fighter jet after Tata group chairman
Ratan Tata who flew a F-16 at the 2007 air show and former
president A.P.J. Abdul Kalam who flew in an IAF Sukhoi SU-30MKI
at Pune in June 2006.
General Dynamics, a global leader in providing defence-related
information and communication systems, combat vehicles, munitions,
weapon systems, special-mission aircraft and commercial space-related
systems opened its India liaison office in New Delhi last
week to provide assistance and information to potential Indian
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