A Self-reliant 'New India'

The 14th edition of India's biennale air show, Aero India, is back. The five-day event, on the theme 'The runway to a billion opportunities', has 731 exhibitors registered for the event.

Show: Aero India 2023 - Day 1 By Ayushee Chaudhary

The show is ready to be held at Air Force Station, Yelahanka in a total area of around 35,000 sqm. in Bengaluru from February 13-17, 2023. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh envisions Aero India 2023 to be a display of the growing prowess of the defence & aerospace sector and the rise of a strong & self-reliant 'New India'. The five-day event, on the theme 'The runway to a billion opportunities', had 731 exhibitors registered for the event as of January 24 when the Defence Minister reviewed the show preparations during apex committee meeting in New Delhi. According to the Aero India website, 643 of the 737 exhibitors are from India, while 94 are from 30 different international nations.

Defence Ministers' Conclave, with the theme 'Shared Prosperity Through Enhanced Engagement in Defence (SPEED)', and a CEOs Roundtable are among the most significant events during the show. The Manthan startup event and Bandhan ceremony that include signing of MoUs, along with an awaited air show and static display section on all the five days including F/A-18 Super Hornet, P-8I, CH-47 Chinook, 737, 787 Dreamliner and 777X, among others. A dedicated India Pavilion with the theme, 'Fixed Wing Platform', shall also be a key feature at the show. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh would also be launching the ninth edition of the Defence India Startup Challenge (DISC) at Manthan 2023 during the air show. Like the previous edition, an Aero India App with all the necessary details shall also be available for everyone.

Rajnath Singh emphasised that while Aero India is a business event, it also aims to strengthen India's relations with other countries. He also underlined the importance of these events for the business ecosystem of the states in which they are organised as well as available opportunities.

Much like DefExpo, Aero India has also been restructured with focus on increasing defence exports and forging partnerships rather than merely import of weapons/equipment. "The Indian defence industry is going through a transformational phase and the active participation of the private sector is the biggest catalyst to that change. Not just the private sector, but R&D establishments and academia are also working together with the Government. Aero India is a medium to provide a platform to all the stakeholders to jointly strengthen the defence & aerospace sector and contribute to Nation Building," said the Defence Minister.


"Our 'Make in India' efforts are not just meant for India alone, it's an open offer for joint partnerships in R&D and production. Our endeavour is to transcend buyer-seller relation to a co-development & co-production model. 'Make in India' encompasses 'Make for the World'. It translates into an open offer to all for joint efforts and partnerships in defence R&D and production," the Minister said in a reach-out event, organised by the Department of Defence Production, Ministry of Defence, attended by Ambassadors, High Commissioners, Chargé d'affaires and Defence Attachés of over 80 countries.

"Aero India is a premier global aviation trade fair, which provides an opportunity for the Indian aviationdefence industry, including the aerospace industry, to showcase its products, technologies and solutions to the national decision makers. The five-day show will witness a combination of major aerospace and defence trade exposition, along with aerial displays by the Indian Air Force (IAF). Besides the major entrepreneurs and investors in the defence and aerospace industries, the event will witness participation of prominent defence think-tanks and defence-related bodies from across the world. Aero India will, indeed, provide a unique opportunity for exchange of information, ideas and new technological developments in the aviation industry," said the Defence Minister.

Hoping for a larger presence of exhibitors and representatives of friendly countries in Aero India 2023, the Minister recalled that Aero India 2021, witnessed over 600 exhibitors physically and another 108 virtually from 63 countries and around 3,000 Business-2-Business meetings, He also added that a robust defence manufacturing ecosystem has been created which has led to the emergence of India as a leading defence exporter in recent years. The defence exports have grown by eight times in the last five years and now India is exporting to over 75 countries, he noted.

Rajnath Singh termed 'partnership' and 'joint efforts' as the two keywords that differentiate India's defence industry partnership with other nations. He described it as the Government's endeavour to transcend the relation of buyer and seller to that of co-development and co-production model, irrespective of India being a buyer or a seller. "We are a major defence buyer as well as a significant defence exporter. When we are procuring defence equipment from our valued partner nations, very often they share the technical know-how, set up manufacturing plants in India and work with our local firms for various sub-systems. And when we export our defence equipment, we offer our full support towards the capability development of the buyer through sharing of technology, training, co-production etc." In that, Aero India 2023 will provide an opportunity for exhibitors and participants to exchange ideas and forge collaborations to fulfil their quest to achieve excellence in aerospace and defence manufacturing.

The Government has been strongly pressing on making India an indigenised Defence Sector Hub on a global scale and many consistent steps have been taken in that direction. Aero India is a major opportunity to showcase the country's strength, capability and possibilities. Even the recently released Union Budget has given the defence allocation a boost. 5.94 lakh crore in Budget 2023-24 have been allocated to Defence, a jump of 13 per cent over previous year; 1.38 lakh crore allocated for Defence Pensions; Capital outlay pertaining to modernisation & infrastructure development increased to 1.62 lakh crore; 57 per cent rise since 2019-20. The Defence sector aims to help in achieving the Government's goal of making India a $5 trillion economy within a few years.

Aero India, thus, is anticipated to become the harbinger of many positive opportunities and exciting collaborations especially after the COVID hit last year.