Defence minister AK Antony will inaugurate the ninth edition of India's biggest aerospace extravaganza — Aero India 2013 —at the Yelahanka air force base near Bangalore on February 6.
The air show, however, may not have the same zing to it as previous years. Fewer military contractors will showcase their fighter planes as India has already picked French firm Dassault Aviation's Rafale fighter jet in a key $18 billion (R99,000 crore) contract to equip the air force with 126 combat aircraft.
Three well-known aerobatic teams are expected to whip up some excitement at the five-day show — Flying Bulls from the Czech Republic, Russian Knights and the IAF’s Sarang aerobatic Team. More than 600 companies have booked their space, compared to 675 firms two years ago. Defence ministry officials said at least 52 types of aircraft would participate, compared to 63 in 2011.
The airshow offers military contractors and firms a platform to showcase their wares.
Secretary (Defence Production) RK Mathur said the airshow this year was expected to be “bigger and better” than previous editions. He said Dassault's Rafale fighter jet and Lockheed Martin's F-16 would take part.
The ones likely to skip the show are Boeing (F/A-18 Super Hornet), Eurofighter Typhoon, Saab (Gripen) and Russian Aircraft Corporation's MiG-35.
The US, which has won deals worth over $10 billion over five years, will be the largest international participant — followed by Israel and Russia.