Pratap Chakravarty New Delhi
SOUTH Asia’s biggest airshow kicks off in India on Wednesday, where global armament firms will be vying for multibillion-dollar contracts from the world’s biggest importer of weapons.
India launched the biannual Aero India event in 1996, three years before a military contretemps with Pakistan prompted New Delhi to go on a global shopping spree for tens of billions of dollars worth of hardware to equip its million-strong military.
A total of 78 countries have confirmed their attendance, while companies from 27 of them will showcase new products at the five-day show in Bangalore, the hub of India’s aviation, space and information technology industries.
India’s state-run Hindustan Aeronautics, which signed a deal with Russia in 2010 worth $30 billion (R265bn) to jointly produce 250 to 300 fifth-generation fighter jets, says it hopes to ink major contracts during the show.
Seattle-based Boeing last year pipped its rivals to provide India with 37 attack and heavy-lift helicopters worth more than $1 billion. Negotiations are under way.
Such negotiations are not a guarantee of sale in Indian defence deals, which can be held up by red tape. – Sapa-AFP