The 14th edition of Asia’s largest aero show – Aero India 2023, successfully concluded with endorsements of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ambitious call for ‘Self Reliant India’ and ‘Make in India’ in the defence sector. The Aero India show is held every two years.
The five-day global event was held at Air force station, Yelahanka, in Bengaluru, between February 13-17, 2023. The first three days were business days, and the general public could witness the show on the last two days.
The theme of Aero India 2023 was “The Runway to a Billion Opportunities.”
Major exhibitors like Airbus, BrahMos Aerospace, Army Aviation, Boeing, Rolls Royce, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL), and Bharat Electronics Limited (BEL) participated in the event.
The event successfully promoted the export of indigenous air platforms like HTT-40, Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) – Tejas, Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH), and Dornier Light Utility Helicopter (LUH).
Prime minster inaugurated Aero India
Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated Aero India 2023 on February 13, 2023, and indicated that Bengaluru sky was witnessing the transformation. “This new height is the reality of New India. Today India is touching new heights and transcending them too”, the Prime Minister said. He asked the youth of Karnataka to render their technological expertise in the field of the Aviation sector. Currently, the defence export is USD 1.5 billion, and Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that Bharat is all set to take defence exports to USD 5 billion by 2024-25. He further said that there is a huge display of Indigenous equipment/ technologies in the show, and felt the need to develop partnerships with foreign companies.
Ambassadors’ Roundtable conference
Importantly, before Aero India 2023, Raksha Mantri Rajnath Singh chaired the Ambassadors’ Roundtable conference, a reach-out event organised by the Department of Defence Production, Ministry of Defence in New Delhi on January 9, 2023. Representatives from 80 countries participated in the conference. Addressing the world leaders, Rajnath Singh said “The five-day long global event will have impressive aerial displays by the Indian Air Force beside the significant aerospace and defence trade exhibition.” He added that the show would focus on Artificial Intelligence, Radars, Drones, cyber-tech, and other emerging areas. He requested the representatives to encourage their respective defence and aerospace companies to participate in the event.
India’s largest helicopter factory
The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) Helicopter Factory at Tumakuru in Karnataka was dedicated to the nation by Prime minister Narendra Modi on February 6, 2023. This event was termed a trendsetter for the forthcoming Aero India show. He lauded HAL for making modern Tejas for the armed forces and propagating India’s ‘Aatmanirbharta’ in the defence sector.
According to the Ministry of Defence, the massive Helicopter Factory, which is spread across 615 acres of land, is said to be a one-stop solution for fulfilling all helicopter requirements of the nation. The HAL plans to make 1000 plus helicopters in the range of 3-15 tonnes, with a business of Rs four lakh crores over a period of 20 years.
DRDO Pavilion displayed indigenously developed technologies and systems
The Defence Research & Development Organisation (DRDO) pavilion was one of the show’s major attractions. There was a display of over 330 products under 12 zones, including Combat Aircraft & UAVs, Sensors, Electronic Warfare & Communication Systems, and Parachute & Drop Systems.
Lord Hanuman picture controversy – The storm is coming
The Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) has put the picture of Lord Hanuman on the tail of HLFT – 42 (Hindustan Lead-in Fighter Trainer) aircraft. The picture was removed on the second day when there was slight opposition to it on social media over using the image of the Hindu God on a fighter jet. However, Bajrang Bali was re-seated on the last day of the show and the entire country expressed their delight through social media posts.
US Air Force F-35 fighter jet and bombers
For the first time in the history of Aero India, the United States presented its most advanced fighter Jet F-35. Other US aircraft like Super Hornets, F-16s, and B-1B bombers were also displayed. This is an effort by the US to cease the business opportunity as India is concerned about the delay with Russian supply due to the Ukraine war.
Breathtaking air shows
The aerobatics performed by the metal birds captivated visitors’ attention on the last day. During the event, fighter jets like Rafale and Sukhoi aircraft put up an awe-inspiring show. Aerobatics by the Surya Kiran team of the IAF mesmerised the audience.
CEOs Round Table
The ‘CEOs Round Table’ chaired by Raksha Mantri on the theme ‘Sky is not the limit: opportunities beyond boundaries,’ on February 13 gave hope for setting up new industries in the country. The interactive session focused on making it easy for Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) to manufacture in India.
The signing of the Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs)/ Agreements was the main attraction of the Bandhan Ceremony, which was held on February 15, 2023.
Two hundred and fifty-one (251) MoUs with an expected investment of 75,000 crores created a record. The Ministry of Defence said the collective growth would eventually become a reality with the new partnerships with companies in India and abroad.
The defence innovation event, Manthan, was organised by Innovations for Defence Excellence (iDEX) on February 15. The platform brought start-ups, MSMEs, Innovators, and investors under one roof.
A huge display of 227 products by 115 companies created a magnificent reputation for Indian brands in the aviation industry. The main attraction was a single-engine, agile, lightweight, multi-role supersonic fighter LCA –Tejas aircraft.
A series of seminars were held during the five-day event. The seminars discussed various issues like Harnessing the Potential of veterans for the Indian Defence Industry, Indigenous development of futuristic aerospace technologies, Advancement in maritime surveillance equipment and assets, Achieving excellence in defence-grade drones and Atmanirbharta in Aero Armament Sustenance, and other relevant topics.