Quarter century of Aero India Shows!

The Vayu Aerospace has been intrinsically part of Aero India Shows since the very first which took place over a quarter century back. In fact, the very first Air Show in India was AVIA India, which took place during 15-18 December 1993 at AFS Yelahanka, north of Bangalore which has now become synonymous with the event. Vayu Aerospace Review was official publication partner for this India’s first airshow and has remained so, with Special Issues and Show Dailies marking the events over the next quarter century, Aero India 2019 included.

At this very first effort, some 21 nations and 138 exhibitors participated, including those from the  USA, UK, France, Germany, CIS, Israel, Italy, Singapore and Japan. On static display were 30 aircraft, including that first MiG-21-93 (precursor to the MiG-21bison) with the legendry General Designer Academician Rostislav A Belyakov personally present. 

Aero India 1996 : Obviously, after witnessing such positive response, the Ministry of Defence got enthused into organising an air show by themselves, but the time all glitches were ironed out, three years were to elapse and the first Aero India show was held in December 1996, also at Yelahanka. Then Prime Minister HD Devegowda inaugurated the event where some around 22 countries took part and 62 aircraft were displayed. 

Aero India 1998 : Two years on, during 8-12 December 1998, there were 25 aircraft on static display and then Defence Minister George Fernandes with Minister for Civil Aviation Ananth Kumar jointly inaugurating the event. However, most leading companies from America did not participate following the sanctions imposed by the US Government on India following the nuclear tests in May 1998 at Pokharan.

Aero India 2001 : With excessive rains during Aero India 1996 and 1998, which played spoilsport, and following advice of the Indian Air Force, third edition of Aero India was shifted to the month of February. Defence Minister George Fernandes inaugurated the five-day event on 7 February, 2001 with over 150 international companies from 17 countries participating at the Show. 

Aero India 2003 : Took place over 5-9 February and was again inaugurated by Defence Minister George Fernandes, with 176 international companies from 22 countries showcasing their products and services, as also 75 Indian companies. Of the  62 aircraft on display 46 were from Indian Air Force.  

Aero India 2005 : This event was inaugurated by then Defence Minister Pranab Mukherjee on 9 February, with 136 Indian and 236 international companies participating.  There were a feast of flying displays including by the Russian MiG-29K, Su-30MKI and Il-78 tanker; the American F-15E, C-130J Super Hercules and P-3C Orion aircraft; the French Mirage 2000 and Falcon 2000; the British Hawk 100, Jaguar and Sea Harrier and the Swedish Saab JAS 39 Gripen apart from HAL’s Dhruv ALH and HJT-36 Intermediate Jet Trainer (IJT). 

Aero India 2007 : Held on 7-11 February, this edition had some 70 aircraft on static display with 30 carrying out flight demonstrations. This Show also marked Platinum Jubilee of the Indian Air Force, with a specially painted Su-30MKI highlighting the occasion.  Saab sent three Gripens to participate while other attractions were the Lockheed-Martin F-16 and the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, all contenders to meet the Indian Air Force's 126 aircraft MMRCA requirement. 

Aero India 2009 : Took place over 11-15 February and provided a platform for 289 Indian and 303 international companies from 25 countries to display their products. There were 70 aircraft on static display while 30 aircraft took part in the flying display, the Eurofighter Typhoon making its flying debut in India. Aero India 2009 also witnessed the biggest US participation till date, the contingent including the F-16 Fighting Falcon the F/A-18 Hornet, the C-17 Globemaster III, the C-130J Hercules and the KC-135 Stratotanker. 

Aero India 2011 : From 9 to 13 February, this witnessed perhaps the largest number of aircraft participating, including virtually all the contenders for the IAF’s gigantic MMRCA tender. These comprised the Boeing F/A-18E/F Super Hornet, Dassault Rafale, Eurofighter Typhoon, Lockheed Martin F-16 Falcon, Mikoyan MiG-35 and Saab JAS 39 Gripen, all at Yelahanka, perhaps together for the last time. 

Aero India 2013 : This Show from  6 to 10 February provided an extended platform for 352 international and 255 national companies to showcase their products and services. During the event, an armed ALH Mk.IV ‘Rudra’ was handed over by HAL to the  Indian Army. The Russian aerobatic team, Russian Knights with Su-27s performed for the first time in India.

Aero India 2015 : This 10th edition which took place 18 to 22 February was inaugurated by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, with the ‘Make in India’ initiative as theme. There was participation of some 33 countries with 623 companies (295 Indian and 328 International, with 72 aircraft and an increased space of 27,678 sqm.  With the French aircraft now declared declared as the MMRCA ‘of choice’, Rafale International, the consortium consisting of Dassault, Thales and Snecma (a Safran subsidiary), showcased three Rafale fighters. Including a single-seat Rafale C and two twin-seater Rafale Bs. 

Aero India 2017 : The unique flypast which heralded start of this Show on 14 February had  the Might Formation consisting of five indigenously-built aircraft : Tejas LCA, HAL-Dornier 228, HTT-40 HAL-Hawk-i, and Su-30MKI.  There were 270 Indian and 279 international companies participating and during the Show, DRDO handed over the first of three indigenously designed airborne early warning on control (AEW&C) platforms to the Indian Air Force. 

Aero India 2019: And the Show goes on!!