BENGALURU: As Aero India 2021, that displays Indian defence sector’s ability to make state-of-the-art fighter jets and helicopters, took off with a spectacular flying display at the Yelahanka Air Base on Wednesday, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh sent out a strong message to hostile neighbours saying India is prepared to counter any threat and protect its sovereignty at any cost. Rajnath highlighted the current security scenario in the neighbourhood as well as the rising demand in the civil aviation and defence sector to woo foreign companies to come with big investments to India to set up facilities to exploit the huge potential.
Inaugurating the three-day event, attended by over 600 firms from across the globe, Rajnath said India faces threats and challenges emanating from multiple fronts and it has been a victim of state-sponsored terrorism. “Like many of our friendly countries, India also faces threats and challenges emanating from multiple fronts. India is a victim of state-sponsored and state-inflicted terrorism which is now a global threat. We long witnessed unfortunate attempts to change the status quo along our unresolved borders. We are vigilant and prepared to counter and defeat any misadventure to defend our people and territorial integrity at all costs,” he said.
Rajnath said the government’s vision is to make India one of the biggest countries in the defence sector from design to production. “We have set a target of Rs 1.75 lakh crore, including export of Rs 35,000 crore, in aerospace and defence and services by 2024,” he said. “We plan to spend $130 billion on defence modernisation in the next seven to eight years,” he added.
“India has the fastest growing civil aviation market in the world with a rising passenger and cargo traffic. Therefore, demand for aircraft and related supply chain is also increasing. India has a huge potential for foreign investment in the aerospace sector, especially in manufacturing aero engines and maintenance, repair and overall segment, for which I invite foreign companies to set up facilities in India,” he added.
Aero India has laid a strong foundation for cooperation among countries of the Indian Ocean Region for peace and stability in the region, he said.
The three-day expo took off with an impressive inaugural aerobatic fly-past and display on Wednesday after Rajnath inaugurated the event. After providing a trailer of the joint performance India’s two most popular aerobatic teams – Surya Kiran and Sarang – at the full dress rehearsal on Tuesday, the two teams put out an even better show at the inaugural with both teams doing several tangoes during their aerobatics jointly.
Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas and Sukhoi MKI of the Indian Air Force displayed a powerful aerobatic performance individually, while Rafale opened the display, being the IAF’s latest acquisition.
The inaugural event also featured India’s indigenous products – LCA trainer (LIFT Trainer), HTT-40, Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT), Advanced Hawk Mk 132 and Civil Do-228 – all flying together in a special formation called ‘Aatmanirbhar Formation Flight’ to a rousing applause from spectators, which included several defence chiefs from various countries.
One of the major attractions at the inaugural of the event was the flight display of the US Air Force’s B-1B Lancer heavy bomber, a supersonic aircraft with a flying range of 12,000 km, and weighing about 87 tonnes, which exclusively landed in Bengaluru to participate in Aero India 2021 after a total flight duration of 26 hours.During the fly past of the B-1B heavy bomber, the massive aircraft was accompanied by Indian Air Force’s own Tejas, looking like a bee escorting an elephant!