From Iran to Ukraine to Russia: A Host of Participating Nations at Aero India Airshow

Aero India 2021

New Delhi: Even as the country focusses on Atmanirbhar Bharat, it is also making a strong pitch to become a reliable supplier of weapons to friendly nations and in keeping with this a diverse set of participation is visible at the Aero India show – the first major global military show taking place after the Covid-19 crisis.

From the defence ministers of Iran and Ukraine to major weapons manufacturers from the US, France and Russia, this edition of the air show has a dual focus – showcase home grown weapon systems that are now available for export and flaunt the unique strategic heft India has with a diverse set of friends and partners.

At centre of the show is the India Pavilion that features a set of helicopters developed indigenously – from the Advanced Light Helicopter to the Light Combat Helicopter and the upcoming medium lift chopper. The idea being to pitch them to friendly nations, going beyond the traditional domestic customer.

“Our vision is to make India one of the biggest countries of the world in Defence sector, from design to production, with active participation of public and private sector…India has the potential to become a reliable supplier of defence equipment to many of its friendly nations,” Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said at the inaugural ceremony of the show.

On the strategic front, the Indian Ocean Region Defence Ministers conclave, being attended by 28 nations in physical or virtual format, is themed around “Enhanced peace, Security and cooperation in the Indian Ocean Region,” with the unspoken threat of Chinese expansionism in the background.

Of special significance is the presence of the Iranian defence minister at the conclave – the first such standalone visit since 1979 and at a time when the Washington has been upping ties with New Delhi as a key security partner for the region.

In fact, the Aero India venue will see an unlikely bunch of nations crossing paths – Russia and Ukraine, Iran and the US.

The growing security threats faced also reflect in the indigenous weapon systems on display – a major showcase is the Combat Air Team System currently under development by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and a startup. The air launched swarm drone concept is designed to defeat complex enemy air defence systems, like the S-400 operated by China and take down a diverse set of targets from tanks on the border to key command posts.

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