Wednesday, February 02, 2011

At Aero India, China, Iran blacked out, US No. 1 guest

SOURCE : The Indian Express Limited
The government has blacked out China and Iran from the Aero India show that begins in Bangalore next week. Both countries have been invited for the mega biennial event organised by the Ministry of Defence in the past, but organisers say that they have not been called this year on the advice of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
The US will be the biggest participant in the show, which is in its largest-ever edition this year.While 40 official national delegations and 63 countries are participating in the event that will involve more than 95 aircraft, the show is not open to any Chinese national, including the media. “The MEA has cleared the list of participating countries. We go by their advice in these matters,” Raj Kumar Singh, Secretary (DP), Ministry of Defence said here today, confirming that China has not been invited.
The organisers have implemented strict regulations for issuing At Aero India, China, Iran out, US is No 1 guest of tickets and passes for the show — marketed as ‘Asia’s premier air show’ — that will effectively bar any Chinese national from entering the premises.
This will put the country in the same category as Pakistan. Iran nationals, however, will be able to able to purchase tickets and attend the show.
However, the organisers sought to downplay suggestions that the restricted invitee list was a reflection of India’s foreign policy. “That is wide off the mark. The list of invitees is drawn up in consultation with the MEA,” Singh said, giving details of the air show.
The reaction came after the matter was raised by Chinese journalists who were denied accreditation to cover the air show. “We tried several times to get media accreditation but discovered that China was not in the list of approved countries. The CII (which manages the show) told us to contact the defence ministry which said that accreditation is not possible,” said Leo Zhengjun Liao, Chief Correspondent (New Delhi Bureau) of the People’s Daily.
However, this year’s event will be the largest ever edition of the show that started in 1998. The number of exhibitors is up from 581 last year to 675 this year but the real jump is in the number of expected business visitors that will double this year to 70,000, indicating that it is picking up as a serious business-oriented affair.
While official delegations from 64 countries were invited, 45 are expected to turn up, including from countries like Afghanistan, Brazil, Mongolia and South Korea.
However, the expected highlight of the show, the F 22 Raptor, is now unlikely to take part as Lockheed Martin has pulled out at the last moment. “Lockheed has told us that the F 22 will be participating but they have now pulled out. We are trying to find out the reason behind it,” RK Singh said.
Amongst participating aircraft, the highlights will be five fighters that are taking part in the Medium Multi Role Combat Aircraft tender: Eurofighter Typhoon, Rafale, F/A 18, Gripen and the F 16. The notable absentee will be the Russian MiG 35. The newly acquired C 130 J of the IAF will be present and an interesting participant will be a
“Maruti 800 flying car” that will be part of the static display.
Three aerobatics teams — the Surya Kiran of the IAF, the Sarang helicopter team and the Red Bull Team — will also enthral crowds. The organisers are expecting 275,000 general visitors to come for the air show. The biggest participation is from the US (63 companies), followed by France (43), Germany (42) and UK (41). However, India’s two largest defence suppliers will have a smaller presence with 35 Russian companies participating and only 13 firms from Israel taking part in the air show.

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