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Aero India kicks off in Bangalore

Surya Kiran Aerobatic team of Indian Air Force performing at Aero India 2009 inaugural show, in Bengaluru on February 11, 2009. BNS photo

BANGALORE (BNS): Aero India kicked off on Wednesday morning with scintillating display by some of the best fighter jets in the world. The Russian Mig-35s roared over the Yelahanka air base mesmerising the audience along with Eurofighter Typhoon of Luftwaffe, US navy's F-18 Super Hornet and F-16. The Indian Light Combat Aircraft, flown by a naval pilot, was not far behind.

The aircraft, in race for IAF's contract of 126 multi role combat jets, performed solo one after another soon after defence minister AK Antony officially declared the show open. Missing from the scene, however, were Gripen and Rafael, the other two contenders.

For the next three days, more than 560 companies from India and abroad would seek to promote their business. A large number of aircraft have been put on static display including G550, C-17 Globemaster, C-130 and KC-3 tanker.

While inaugurating the show Antony said that India will not scale down expenditure on defence and the ongoing acquisiton programme will continue unabated. India spends 2.5 per cent of its GDP on defence.

India is one of the fastest expanding aerospace markets in the world. The global industry is looking up to India to overcome impact of global meltdown. The officials claimed that Aero India is taking place at the right time as it would provide business opportunity to a large number of companies.

Antony said the Indian defence industry was open to 100 per cent Indian private sector participation. Twenty five countries have put up their stalls at Aero India and the organisers expect around 1.5 lakh visitors during the show.

Apart from the industry, for the first time, students from the Indian Institutes of Technology would display their work in aerospace sector. The IAF pilots will interact with school children teaching them basics of flying.

The opening ceremony ended with enthralling display by IAF's Suryakiran Aerobatic team and the helicopter display squad Sarang. Heavy security arrangements have been made for the show and the roads leading to Yelahanka were jammed with traffic this morning.

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