Aero India, 2021: World’s first ‘Hybrid’ Defence and Aerospace show underway at Bengaluru

Aero India 2021, Bengaluru, Aero India, Rajnath Singh, Narendra Modi, Aatmanirbhar Bharat, HAL, Tejas Mark 1A, Rafale

(Visuals: Sayan Chatterjee)

Aero India – the marquee aerospace and defence business event is underway after its inaugural today by Defence minister Rajnath Singh in the morning.

Earlier this day, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Tuesday said that the 13th edition of the premier air show will give a boost to the Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s clarion call of ‘Aatmanirbhar Bharat’ scheme by signing as more than 200 agreements during a sub-event- Bandhan (the bond) – on the last day of the biennial show on Friday, February 5th, 2021.

The 13th edition of the country’s premier air show is being held in the backdrop of Bengaluru-based Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) bagging a Rs 48,000 crore order for indigenously built fighter jets – Tejas Mark 1A and India’s engagement with Indian Ocean Region (IOR) countries.


Heaping praise on Prime Minister Narendra Modi for his vision of Aatmanirbhar Bharat at the curtain-raiser press conference on Tuesday, Singh also remarked that India to soon be the most powerful defence economy in the world.

In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Aero India 2021 is being held as the world’s first ‘Hybrid’ version with a focus on the virtual platform and exhibitor’s engagement there on the platform.

Along with the aerospace ecosystem, the state of Karnataka is also long known for its leadership in the software industry. Commenting at the curtain-raiser conference, Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa thanked the defence minister and assured the State will honour all its commitments to strengthen the aerospace ecosystem. He further added, “It’s a proud moment for the city to get the chance and permission to host the air show despite all challenges as posed due to the Covid-19 pandemic”

The global business community has responded enthusiastically to Indian economy’s revivalist fervour and Aero India will further showcase the nation’s accomplishments in defence manufacturing and position India as investment, innovation and defence manufacturing hub.

Previously, a five-day event (Aero India, 2021) has been reduced to three days, leaving out the two public days that were the norm in the earlier editions. Though the total number of exhibitors has increased to 601 against 403 in the last edition, the number of foreign exhibitors is down from 165 to 78 this year. The number of foreign delegations is also down from 44 to 14. There are 248 virtual exhibitors at the event, which is largely out of bounds for the public.

The first day of the event witnessed the valued presence of all the three service Chiefs and CDS at the inaugural session along with other national and foreign dignitaries and bureaucrats. Following the inaugural, the first day started with a flying display that showcased ‘Atmanirbhar Bharat’ formation showcasing all the indigenously built assets of HAL, followed by the Rafale(s) making its first-ever appearance at the premier air show.

The display also witnessed the might of Indian Air Force with its assets like Tejas, Su-30MKis, Hawks in action. The famed aerobatic teams of Surya Kirans and Sharang also put up an integrated spectacular display for the first time. The vintage Dakota also turned up.

The other highlights of the event would be the Chiefs of Air Staff Conclave and IOR Defence Minister’s conclave. Uttar Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, which are in the process of establishing defence corridors, will make a pitch seeking investments, along with Karnataka, Telangana and Gujarat.

There will be a number of events and displays during the three days of Aero India 21. On February 4 the first-ever Defence Ministers’ Conclave will take place with the participation of 27 Defence Ministers, physically and virtually. The Chief of Air Staff’s conclave will also be held on February 4. Start-up Manthan will be held on February 5 to facilitate all start-ups and MSMEs in the aerospace and defence sector.

(The writer is a Delhi-based independent contributor to print and online publications. Sayan is a DCC qualified defence beat writer)