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Entering its second decade of being India's premier technology showpiece, Aero India has also emerged as the largest show of its kind in Asia. Not that India is the largest aviation market, or aero technology provider, or even an aircraft production giant. None of these apply to India, as yet anyway. Despite all these factors missing, India has succeeded in pushing Aero India to the top of the blocks of aviation shows. The numbers are not staggering as yet, but they're nevertheless impressive. At the last edition of the biennial event more than 100,000 people attended. Good figure for a specialised technology intensive event. But not enough given the scale of India's potential and emerging manpower talents.


It is for the emerging India that Aero India holds great promise and hope. Showcasing the best in the world and the best India has to offer, in the aviation technology sector, the aim is to attract greater talent into this field. Only when more bright young technologists enter this sector will India and its aviation industry pick up pace. At the moment it is not much to talk about. Everyone knows there is potential and everyone also knows there is a huge requirement. But between the potential, the requirement and the delivery, there is a mismatch. And this mismatch has to be overcome to enable India achieve its military-technical potential.

Since 1996 Aero India has been the benchmark for aviation enthusiasts and professionals, in the country and outside. So much so that it has grown into being the biggest of its kind in the continent. That is an admirable feat. The Defence Exhibition Organisation under the Ministry of Defence puts it together. There is of course ample help from Defence Research and Development Organisation, Ministry of Civil Aviation and other government departments and agencies. They all combine talent and resources to put together the most impressive aviation show in Asia. It is important that the same coming together of talent be emulated and repeated in the field of military and civil aviation industry in India.

The recently concluded visit of US President Barack Obama has generated much hope for the bettering of relations, particularly in the field of defence cooperation. The decade old Defence Framework Agreement has been further extended and some 'pathfinder' technologies are to be jointly developed. Amongst them are the Raven mini-UAVs, vital for the immediate tactical battle space. The next generation Raven will provide small team, or even larger unit level, operations with an eye in the sky capability. This will greatly expedite decision-making, thus helping the conduct of combat. In the same vein there is the development of roll on roll off kits for C-130 Hercules, an aircraft that India is already flying in a specialised version. These kits will greatly enhance the capability of the C-130. Then there is reportedly an agreement for aircraft carrier technology that helps in the development of technical landing systems for planes.

All of these are aviation related agreements and it is great coincidence that they were signed on the eve of Aero India 2015. Mter all their end result is to enhance India's aviation capabilities in combat or combat support. But that can only truly happen when the Indian domestic sector picks up the responsibility and truly develops its technical skills. These begin with research, design, development, production, testing and finally full scale manufacturing. For all of this to happen there has to be a partnership between the state and the private sector.

There are enough examples around the world for this model. Once India's largest supplier, Russia, has a model and now the largest supplier, the United States, has its own model. India has to be open to selecting a model that suits it best, in terms of what is feasible and what is required. And on that basis proceed ahead. Hopefully the Indo-US agreement will spur the domestic to do its bit and in the near future Aero India will see greater variety and levels, of Indian aviation products.

Manvendra Singh


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