Bengaluru: The Rafale fighter jet, at the centre of a political controversy before elections, took to the Indian skies at the Aero India 2019, the 12th edition of Asia's premier air show at the Yelahanka air base here, on Wednesday.
The five-day mega event began on a sombre note, a day after two aircraft of Surya Kiran, Indian Air Force (IAF)'s aerobatics team, collided mid-air, killing a pilot and injuring two others who ejected to safety.
Apart from the Rafale, Sukhoi SU-30, F-16 Fighting Falcon, F/A-18 Super Hornet and the mighty B-52 Stratofortress bomber are part of the air show.
Besides the Tejas, the HTT-40 (Basic Trainer Aircraft), first indigenously upgraded Hawk Mk132- named as Hawk-i, Civil Do-228, Advanced Light Helicopter (Rudra), Light Utility Helicopter (LUH), Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) are scheduled to fly in the air show.
Also, aerobatic teams like India's Sarang (ALH-Dhruv) and UK-based Yakovlevs are expected to enthrall the audience.
On static display would be HAL's Light Utility Helicopter (PT-1), Light Combat Helicopter (TD-2), Advanced Light Helicopter (Rudra) and ALH MICU (Medical Intensive CareUnit).
The Aero India official website said a total of 61 aircraft would be on display and 403 exhibitors would be part of the show.
Kicking off the event, Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman invited investors to capitalise on the ecosystem in aero space and other sectors in India which offered a big market for Defence manufacturing.
In her inaugural remarks at Aero India 2019, Sitharaman made a strong pitch for 'Make in India" and referred to a slew of initiatives taken by the government, including permitting 100 per cent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in Defence manufacturing.
Explaining the possibilities in the aerospace and defence sectors, she said the Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) could find joint venture partners so that the production could be scaled up and they could have a captive market and could export from India.
She also noted that during the last four years and the current financial year, 150 contracts worth about Rs 1,27,500 crores have been signed with the Indian vendors for procurement of defence equipment for the armed forces.
The biennial event, which would showcase India's air defence prowess, would also act as a platform for aviation companies, the defence sector and government to forge new alliances and contracts.
The current edition of Aero India was marked by controversy with reports about it being shifted to Uttar Pradesh, which had taken a political colour, as the Congress-JD(S)led government in the state had hit out at the BJP led Centre against the alleged move.