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AeroIndia show to be the largest ever

 New Delhi: India's air show in Bangalore next week will be the largest ever with 29 countries bringing their aerospace products, including fighter jets and transport aircraft, for showcasing at the five-day event.

The biennial AeroIndia-2011 will for the first time witness the civil aviation sector overtaking military aviation. The air show will see 54 percent of the aircraft, helicopters and aerospace systems from the civilian sector compared to 46 percent from the military sector. "This year's air show will surpass all previous figures in terms of participating countries, companies, space and business. All inputs show a healthy growth than the previous edition of AeroIndia. Civil aviation sector at 54 percent will overtake military aviation content at 46 percent in this year's show," Defence Production Secretary Raj Kumar Singh told reporters here Tuesday.

To be held at the Yelahanka air force station, this year's show has been oversubscribed in terms of exhibition space and the Defence Exhibition Organisation has had to refuse further bookings, he said. There had been a 70 percent growth in gross exhibition area at 75,000 sqmt than last time's 44,000 sqmt, he added.

The number of exhibitors too has grown by 16 percent with 675 firms -- 380 foreign -- booking space compared to 581 companies in the last edition two years ago.

"I am happy that AeroIndia is emerging as a major attraction for global aerospace firms to explore business opportunities and to showcase their products," Singh said.

The air show would also have 350 official business delegations from countries such as the US, Germany and Italy visiting the event with about 1.75 lakh visitors. Among the countries that will participate are Afghanistan, Israel, the Maldives, Mongolia, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

"It is good that countries like Afghanistan are showing interest in the air show and would be participating. We have good cooperation with the Afghan government and we want it to grow," he said.

However, India's traditional rivals Pakistan and China would not be present at the show this time as the external affairs ministry had not shortlisted them for sending an invitation.

"China was sent an invite for the last edition, but it did not participate. So, this time no invite was sent. Pakistan and Iran too are not invited," Singh said, adding that the invitations are sent on the advice of the external affairs ministry.

About 95 aircraft, including 47 foreign planes, would be either on static or flying display at this edition's AeroIndia.

Among the aircraft to fly are contenders for the Indian Air Force (IAF) $10.4-billion tender for 126 Medium Multi-Role Combat Aircraft (MMRCA) such as European consortium EADS' Eurofighter Typhoon, US majors Boeing's F/A-18 and Lockheed Martin's F-16s, Swedish SAAB's Gripen and Dasault's Rafale.

Only the Russian MiG-35, which was in Bangalore two years ago for the show, will be absent in this year's edition. It is the sixth competitor in the fray for the MMRCA race.

The show will witness flying display in the morning and evening on all days and the attraction this time would the Czech Republic's Flying Bulls aerobatic team, which will display its synchronised flying skills on four Zlin 50LX aircraft.

This team will have company from IAF's very own Surya Kirans nine-aircraft team flying their Kiran MkII trainer jets.


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