The Rafale fighter jet was the centre of attraction – its flying capacity and the Make in India plans as part of the offsets for the 36-jet deal was part of display.
Rebranded fighter jets, lukewarm participation and a no-show by the Prime Minister made the Aero India 2019 a low key affair. For some Indian companies it was an occasion to showcase their growing production capabilities.
The show took off in a pall of gloom over the loss of a pilot during the practise session of the Surya Kiran Aerobatic Team (SKAT) and the opening ceremony marked its respect with a missing man formation— a flypast in which one aircraft is left out.
The Rafale fighter jet was the centre of attraction — its flying capacity and the Make in India plans as part of the offsets for the 36-jet deal was part of display. The first cockpit structure made at the Reliance-Dassault facility was also showcased.
Tata Aerospace and Defence company showcased the aerostructures it has been making here, including the cabin of the S-92 chopper and the fuselage and wings of the Pilatus PC-12 civilian aircraft. Compared to 2017, participation at the show seems to have fallen. There has been much confusion over the number of companies taking part this year, with the defence ministry claiming the presence of 403 exhibitors as against 214 last time. However, the official release in 2017 by the defence ministry had claimed participation of 549 companies.
The DRDO showcased its Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) in a new avatar as the Medium Combat Aircraft — a new designation to symbolise that the next version of the plane that is being developed will be heavier and better equipped. With the pulling out of PM Modi at a late hour, the opening ceremony also saw low attendance, but the event was kicked off by defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman.