BENGALURU: Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday flagged off the 12th edition of Aero India, at Yelahanka Air Force Base, in Bengaluru, on Wednesday. The five-day event will witness the participation of leading international defence and civil aviation firms.
The event was started after mourning the death of Wing Commander Sahil Gandhi by observing silence for two minutes.
Sahil passed away after his Hawk aircraft, part of the Surya Kiran aerobatic team had a mid-air collision with another aircraft of the Surya Kiran team while performing a high-risk stunt maneuver during full dress rehearsal on Tuesday morning.
A total of 63 aircraft are being displayed at the event, with flying displays of aircrafts such as Dassault Rafale and Light Combat Aircraft Tejas.
Representatives of defense sector from countries such as Russia, France, USA, Saudi Arabia and others are participating in the event.
Speaking at the event, Sitharaman said that the government has signed 150 contracts worth Rs 1.27 lakh to procure defence equipment in the last three to four years. Steps are being taken to encourage defence manufacturing in India, she said.
The number of companies that are manufacturing licensed defence equipment has doubled in the last four years, she said. A total of 424 companies are involved in the process today.
The Defence Ministry is also ensuring that procurement orders are given to Indian manufacturers, or for companies who have agreements with Original Equipment Manufacturers for production of various defence equipment.
Railways and Civil Aviation minister Suresh Prabhu said that India was planning to add 100 more airports in the next 10-15 years. The project is expected to cost 65 billion dollars, he said.
"We are working on a strategy to come up with Vision 2040, in order to ensure that India stands either first or second in terms of aviation in the world," he said.
In order to meet these targets, the country will need to buy two to three thousand more aircrafts.
India is also coming up with a roadmap to ensure that the required aircraft are manufactured in the country, he added.