With the 26/11 Mumbai attacks exposing India’s vulnerability to terror, the government is taking no chances with the security of Aero India 2009 that will be held in Bangalore from February 11-15.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) has been asked to deploy the Garud commandos to provide foolproof security for the seventh edition of the air show, being attended by 592 exhibitors from 25 countries. Pradeep Kumar, secretary (defence production), said on Monday, “We cannot afford to take anything lightly post-26/11. Meetings have been held with officials from Intelligence Bureau and Karnataka government. All necessary precautions have been taken.”
The number of CCTVs at the venue has been increased from 30 to 140. Besides, security guards have been asked to verify the identity of every visitor (around 1.5 lakh general and 50,000 business visitors are expected).
The exhibitors include 303 foreign firms representing countries such as the UK, the US, Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Israel, Russia, South Africa and Sweden. China is sending a delegation to the air show for the first time.
The aircraft taking part in the airshow include Lockheed Martin’s F-16, Boeing’s F-18, Russian MiG-35D and Eurofighter Typhoon, which are all competing for the IAF’s $10 billion tender for 126 multi-role combat aircraft. Other aircraft taking part include the C130J military transport aircraft and the C-17 transport aircraft, which are both in service with the US Air Force.
Ministerial delegations and air chiefs from around 25 countries will be attending the airshow, organised jointly by the Ministry of Defence and Confederation of Indian Industry.
Students from several IITs and other engineering colleges will display their aerospace-related projects for the first time at the airshow.
Kumar said the show aimed at bringing exhibitors from all around the globe to showcase their technology and wares under one roof.
The defence ministry believes that opening up of the defence sector to foreign direct investment and the ongoing modernisation plans of the armed forces have opened innumerable new avenues for investment. Ministry officials said the airshow would provide an opportunity for companies to not only network with the Indian industry but also benefit from the sharing expertise in the fields of research and development, production and product support.