US aerospace giants Boeing and Lockheed Martin will be joined by their European rival EADS in the race to fly Indian celebrities on their aircraft at this year's Aero India show in Bangalore.
The three companies are competing with each other in the bids for Indian Air Force's (IAF) 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft, said to be worth $10 billion.
After Lockheed roped in Indian Olympic gold medallist shooter Abhinav Bindra for a joy ride on its F-16 fighter, Boeing is planning to get young Indian politicians on-board to fly its F/A-18.
Not to be left behind, EADS had gone after cricketing star Yuvraj Singh and has held out an invitation to him to fly their Eurofighter Typhoon fighter.
"The companies have extended invitations to young politicians and sports persons. Hopefully, the invitees will fly with these companies. But the final confirmation is yet to come," Industry sources said here today.
Representatives of the three defence manufacturers confirmed that their celebrity hunt was certainly in progress, of which Bindra's schedule was almost finalised.
It was during last Aero India show in 2007 that the race to get celebrities on to their bandwagon began. After Lockheed managed to convince industrialist Ratan Tata to go on a sortie in their F-16, Boeing followed suit roping him in again to fly their F/A-18.