Aero India is India's premier aerospace and defence exhibition where global aero vendors and the Indian Air Force (IAF) thrill the spectators with back-to-back aerobatic flying displays. Global industry chiefs, with their latest products, try to catch the eye of Indian policy makers. Thousands of business visitors and general visitors including foreign decision-makers, industry chiefs, pilots and technicians travel to India and witness the flying displays. It is organised by the defence ministry every alternate year in Bengaluru at Yelahanka Air Force base.
Aero India also enables the industry professionals to gain market insights, announce new developments and offers a unique platform for international aviation firms to showcase their products and strengthen their businesses. The first edition of Aero India was held in 1996, under the then Defence Minister late George Fernandes.
The latest, 13th edition of Aero India was organised under the long shadow of Covid-19 in Bengaluru from February 3-5. Around 78 foreign firms took part in the event this time, way less than the last time (around 165 firms participated in 2019). Top global aviation giants including Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Dassault and Airbus took part in the event. Due to the travel restrictions worldwide, the usual buzz and foreign visitors were missing, but nevertheless, the IAF took it upon itself to enthrall the public with flying aerobatics.
On display was the HAL’s Combat Air Teaming System (CATS), a combination of manned and unmanned systems that will operate in wartime in tandem, the Tata Group's Rakshak VTOL, a fully autonomous vertical take off and landing UAV and some others. The lone foreign aircraft on show was a US Air Force B-1B Lancer strategic bomber, that travelled all the way from an air force base in South Dakota.
The latest edition also marked the “hybrid air show”, where virtual seminars were being conducted, even as flying displays were on display for the spectators attending in-person. During the event, The government formally sealed the Rs 48,000 crore deal to buy 83 Tejas light combat aircraft from state-run aerospace giant Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).