This year despite the pandemic, Aero India has 600 exhibitors with 522 being Indian and 78 being foreign. The main highlight of this year’s Aero India edition shall remain as ‘Atmanirbharta’ or self-reliance of the Indian defence and aerospace industry as also goes the tagline ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat ki Udaan’.
Being the “Runway to a Billion Opportunities”, Aero India 2021 is unique in ways more than one, remarked the Defence Minister of India, Rajnath Singh. Scheduled from February 3-5, 2021 in Bengaluru, Karnataka, Aero India is claimed to be the largest aerospace exhibition in Asia. The biennial event will be inaugurated by Rajnath Singh and the valedictory function is scheduled to be presided by the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind. This is the 13th edition of this major exhibition for the aerospace and defense (A&D) industries. Being held offline as well as online, the Aero India 2021 exhibition’s occurrence despite the pandemic year is being hailed as a significant step. Aero India has been a major platform for industry professionals to showcase their products and services, to network as well as to gain market insights and announce new developments.
In its previous edition held in 2019, Aero India witnessed 403 exhibitors with 238 Indian exhibitors and 165 foreign exhibitors. This year despite the pandemic, Aero India has 600 exhibitors with 522 being Indian and 78 being foreign. Even though the number of foreign exhibitors has gone down for offline, this is only due to the travel restrictions following the novel coronavirus situation in many countries. There is still participation confirmed from 14 countries and 214 virtual exhibitors have been recorded.
Important topics like the future and dynamics of Civil Aviation sector, drones & counter-drone opportunities in defence and homeland security, US - India defence collaboration opportunities and challenges, energising the R&D capabilities with industry, emerging hub for aerospace & defence industries, convergence of civil and defence, building collective maritime, etc. will be deliberated through the various seminar sessions scheduled.
The main highlight of this year’s Aero India edition shall remain as ‘Atmanirbharta’ or self-reliance of the Indian defence and aerospace industry as also goes the tagline ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat ki Udaan’. Self-reliance in defence has also been the cornerstone of India’s defence production policy that was released last year, prior to which the Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi had called for “Atma Nirbhar Bharat”. Over the years, transparent and streamlined Procurement Procedures, Production Policies and ‘Make in India’ initiatives have provided significant stimulus to demandfor indigenous products. The policy draft noted that the size of the Defence industry, including aerospace and naval shipbuilding industry, is currently estimated to be about 80,000 crores (2019-20). While the contribution of Public Sector is estimated to be 63,000 crores, the share of Private Sector has steadily grown to 17,000 crores over the years. The indigenisation policy laid out by the department further aims to create an industry ecosystem to indigenise the imported components (including alloys and special materials) and sub-assemblies for defence equipment and platform manufactured in India. 5,000 such items are proposed to be indigenised by 2025. Many global companies are also taking the necessary steps to enhance the ‘Make in India’ initiative and build India into the defence and aerospace manufacturing hub.
The Defence Minister will also reportedly sign India’s largest defence orders for Indian industry, a 48,000 crore contract for 83 LCA Tejas Mark 1A aircraft and an order for 15 Light Combat Helicopters worth 3,000 crore with HAL (Hindustan Aeronautics Limited).
This year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the air show, Aero India 2021 would be a hybrid show, which means delegates would be present either physically or virtually. As per the organisers, the 2021 edition will also be held on an indigenously developed virtual exhibition platform on a hybrid model. This is the first global air show being organised in the Covid era. Most of the other major international shows were postponed.
All the sessions that will be held during the exhibition will be available at the virtual platform also including the virtual booths of the exhibitors who have registered virtually. There is an option to live chat as well with the people virtually, and swap contacts of the people you meet during the exhibition through the Aero India App. The App will also showcase major agendas, send notifications, provide details and also allow an option to report for hygienic measures related to COVID care. The registrations on the virtual portal have been made free of cost for anyone to watch Aero India virtually.
Another important highlight of the Aero India is going to be HAL’’s India pavilion that is expected to be spread over a large area. The central theme of the India Pavilion is rotary wing capabilities in India. In line with the theme, HAL’s Rotary platform LUH (Light Utility Helicopter) will be the centerpiece of the display with scaled models and the Indian helicopter manufacturing ecosystem also on display. The pavilion will showcase indigenously designed and developed fixed and rotary wing platforms, technologies covering power plants and future generation combat-capable airborne solutions. This is again a major step to underline the promotion of defence exports from the nation. An exclusive conclave of the Indian Ocean Littoral (IOR) states is also scheduled to be held by the Defence Minister.
The two Defence Corridors that are being set up in Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh are specifically targeted by providing additional support as well as by offering higher multipliers for offset discharge for investments flowing into the Defence Corridors. The UP Defence Corridor which is being set up at six places in the state – Chitrakoot, Jhansi, Kanpur, Aligarh, Agra and Lucknow, will be a part of international Aero India this year for the first time. During the show, the visitors will be made aware of the activities, policies and current investments made by UPEIDA (the nodal agency for setting up the Defence Corridor) and about 15 MOUs are expected to be signed.
There has been a significant focus on start-ups and small and medium enterprises as well through the last year with initiatives like iDEX (Innovations for Defence Excellence). To provide an opportunity for startups to interact with key stakeholders from the industry, ‘Startup Manthan 2021’ is also a part of the Aero India exhibition where startups had been asked to register at very affordable prices to ensure more participation.
In its previous edition, 61 aircraft were displayed at Aero India. This time around, according to the organisers, 41 aircraft including Dakota, Su-30 MKI would participate in the flight display on the inaugural day while there would be 63 aircraft on static display.The key attractions would be the display by Surya Kiran aircraft and Sarang helicopters, five of HAL’s indigenous aircraft in the fixed and rotary wing category are also set to fly in a unique display titled ‘Aatmanirbhar Formation Flight’. An American B-1B Lancer heavy bomber and Lockheed Martin’s F-21 multi-role fighter jet are also expected to perform a fly-by at the Aero India 2021.
A negative COVID-19 report is mandatory for all those who are attending the program. After being uploaded on the virtual platform, the report will be cleared by a team of about 50 doctors. With efforts in place for a dual show online as well as offline, Aero India 2021 is starting with an uplifting note for the Indian industry as well the global industry to witness the prowess of India’s defence and aerospace sector at present and in the times to come.