Eventually, 414 companies will be participating in Aero India 2019, 247 of them being Indian. For the first time, 45 French firms participating will comprise the largest foreign representation, many of them hoping to forge industrial partnerships to discharge offsets connected with the Rafale purchase.
There are also 37 companies from the US, 23 from Russia, 19 from the UK and nine from Israel. Aero India shows from 2005 to 2015 were enlivened by the IAF’s then on-going procurement of 126 medium multi-role combat aircraft (MMRCA).
All six vendors in the fray — Boeing and Lockheed Martin, MiG, Dassault, Saab and the Eurofighter GmbH — sent across their fighters to show off their aerobatics capabilities.
That contest eventually ended as a damp squib, with the purchase of 36 Rafale fighters from Dassault. However, the IAF has re-initiated the procurement of fighters, calling for interest in building 114 medium fighters in India. All six of the MMRCA vendors have responded, and Sukhoi has joined them with an offer of its Sukhoi-35 fighter.
Several vendors, however, say they have learned not to commit too much money into the early stages of an Indian procurement. Of the foreign fighters, only the Rafale and Boeing’s F/A-18E Super Hornet will be displaying aerobatics in Bengaluru.
Also joining them will be the Tejas, which has steadily expanded its flight envelope. After Aero India, the Tejas will be going to Malaysia next month, where it will be demonstrating its aerobatics capabilities at the Langkawi Air Show. The Malaysian Air Force, which, like the IAF, flies an upgraded Sukhoi-30, is understood to be evaluating the Tejas and the Sino-Pakistani JF-17 Thunder in the light fighter category.