Despite the Covid-19 crisis, India’s premier aerospace show will see participation of top global companies, with the venue at the Yelahanka airbase in Bengaluru fully sold out as manufacturers line up to showcase their latest products.
While a majority of the participants will be Indian companies, officials said the response from global manufacturers had also been enthusiastic, with most major ones booking space at the venue. From major defence manufacturers to startups, a record 530 firms are expected at the biennial event.
Major foreign participants include companies from the US, Russia, France and Israel that have set up shop in India in recent years and already have joint ventures underway with Indian manufacturers. The number has, however, slipped from 167 foreign companies in the 2019 show to over 70 this time given the Covid crisis, but all large players will be represented.
Defence minister Rajnath Singh, who has kept a close eye on preparations, is expected to go for an onsite review of the venue later this month.
While the show will not be open to the general public this time due to overcrowding fears, the exhibition is expected to see major announcements under the Make in India initiative. Special focus will be on startups, officials said.
An India pavilion that will showcase indigenous products that can be exported to friendly foreign nations will be the centrepiece of the show, with aircraft, missiles and other aeronautical products on display. The show will also host a conclave of defence ministers of the Indian Ocean Region this time.
“We have received enthusiastic responses from both international and domestic exhibitors. Indian Ocean Region Defence Ministers Conclave would be a special feature this time,” secretary of defence production Raj Kumar said.
The defence ministry has been busy inviting foreign delegations and encouraging participation of global firms over the past six months, with minister Rajnath Singh holding regular progress meetings to smoothen the process. The minister also took the call to keep the show open this year only to business visitors due to the Covid crisis, though air displays will be broadcasted virtually.
“The event is being held following Covid protocols and is fully booked,” Sanjay Jaju, additional secretary at the Department of Defence Production, said.
As per the latest numbers, more than 530 companies have booked space for the show, while several others will have their teams participating.
Global players say they will not miss the event to show their commitment to Make in India.
“Despite the challenges posed by the Covid-19 crisis, you will see Airbus’ full presence at Aero India as our continuing commitment to the country’s aerospace and defence sector. We look forward to a vibrant and fruitful event,” said Remi Maillard, president and managing director at Airbus India & South Asia, which is poised to sign a deal to manufacture transport planes in partnership with Tata Aerospace & Defence.
At 23, France has the most number of foreign companies displaying products, followed by the US with 21 global manufacturers. While China has not been invited, a Taiwanese company is taking part at Aero India this time.
On the Russian front, top companies including Almaz Antey, the manufacturers of the S-400 missile system, will be present at the show. A notable exception will be Swedish company SAAB, which had initially booked space at the show but is unlikely to participate.