Over 1 lakh footfall at air show grand finale in Bengaluru

Bengaluru: Over one lakh people visited the air show Sunday to watch metal birds of different kind soar and roar on the final day of the Aero India trade expo at the Indian Air Force's (IAF) Yelahanka base on the city's outskirts.

Braving a hot sun and navigating the city's traffic snarls, thousands of people, including children and women descended on the venue for a spectacular flying display of fighters, trainer jets, stunt aircraft, transport planes, helicopters and drones.

"Being Sunday and last day of the five-day show, over a lakh of people visited the air base from across the city for the 10th edition of the biennial event, with two-thirds of them coming for the two-hour flying display twice a day," defence exhibition organisation director M.D. Singh told IANS at the grand finale.

The IAF showcased its fighter Sukhoi, jet trainer Hawk, transport plane Globemaster and helicopter fleet, including the Sarang aerobatics team onboard the Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH), while the state-run HAL flaunted its indigenous Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas and a prototype of its Light Combat Helicopter (LCH).

The medium multirole combat aircraft Rafale of the French aerospace major Dassault Aviation was the show-stopper with its breathtaking manoeuvres, including double barrel loops, vertical turns, rolls, flying upside down and in angular combat mode.

The IAF has shortlisted the twin-engine, delta wing fighter for induction in its frontline fleet in place of the ageing Russian-made MiG-21 and MiG-27 squadrons. Lockheed Martin of the US also flew its F-16 fighter to demonstrate its air prowess.

Daredevilry feats by Aero Super Baltics and Aerowind Services from Britain, Scandinavian air show team Wasp and Open Skydiving of the US Special Forces drew cheers from spectators, even as the Flying Bulls of Czech Republic remained grounded after one of its aircraft's right wing got damaged in a mid-air collision Friday.

In all, 72 military aircraft were on flying and static display, including P8-A maritime reconnaissance aircraft and KC-135 tanker of Boeing and EMB-145 Embraer from Brazil. In addition, 17 types of civil aircraft, including business jets and helicopters were on display for hard-selling in the growing Indian aviation market.

The state-run defence exhibition organisation chose 'Make in India' programme of the government as the event theme to pitch for overseas investments in designing, developing and manufacturing aerospace products and platforms for the global military and civil aviation markets, especially in the Indian sub-continent.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi flagged off the mega event Feb 18 in the presence of Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar and other dignitaries, including defence ministers and air chiefs of dozen countries from the world over.

Of the 110 countries which participated in the trade fair, the US was represented in a big way with a 64-member delegation, followed by France with 58 delegates, Britain 48, Russia 41 and Israel 25. About 750 overseas and Indian firms, including state-run enterprises, showcased their technologies and products at the expo in dozen pavilions.

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