Though largely overshadowed by a heavy military presence, the business aviation sector made its voice heard at last month’s Aero India show in Bangalore (February 6 to 10). Serious obstacles continue to stand in the way of those trying to fulfill bizav’s undoubted potential in this vast emerging market (see box), but this has not deterred the major manufacturers from increasing their presence in India.
The air force commanders of both Russia and India have this month discussed the progress and future schedule of the fifth-generation Sukhoi fighter project. They are keen to have their own pilots evaluate the design so that they can take a decision on further funding for the project.
India’s indigenous airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) system made its debut at Aero India 2013. The Embraer 145 flew on the opening day and remained in the static for two more days. A cutaway scale model on display revealed the operator positions and equipment placement, and further details were made available by the Center for Air Borne Systems of Defense Research and Development Organization (CABS-DRDO).
The integration of the Indo-Russian BrahMos missile on 40 of the Indian air force (IAF) Su-30MKI fleet of combat aircraft is proceeding this year. The land- and ship-launched version of the highly maneuverable, supersonic, anti-ship cruise missile have already been tested successfully.
One of the three PC-7 Mark II trainers that Pilatus has delivered to the Indian air force (IAF) was on display at Aero India. It was assembled at the IAF Academy in Hyderabad, and shown in Pilatus corporate livery with Indian air force insignia.
Pilatus is scheduled to deliver 14 aircraft by June, so that the first squadron can be formed and begin pilot training. All 75 aircraft on order are slated for delivery by the end of 2015. A follow-on order for 37 is expected. The PC-7 Mark II is replacing aging HAL HPT-32 Deepaks, which are suffering from engine and other failures.
Defense contractors flocked to Bangalore for the Aero India show this week, even as the Indian government confirmed that the years of plenty might be over. Defense minister A.K. Anthony confirmed that his spending would be cut in the fiscal year that starts in April, although not on “operational preparedness.”
The Indo-Russian joint venture Multirole Transport Aircraft Ltd. (MTAL) exhibited for the first time at Aero India in Bangalore this week. Under the leadership of general director N.C. Agarwal, the company was established by a framework agreement signed in October 2012 between Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. (HAL) and United Aircraft Corporation’s Transport Aircraft division.
Rosoboronexport reported a new Indian order for 12 Mil Mi-17V5 helicopters at the Aero India show this week amid hopes that some 200 of them could eventually be sold to India. To date, Russian Helicopters has delivered 36 of the 80 machines that were ordered in 2008 in a deal worth more than $1.3 billion. Deliveries to the Indian Air Force commenced in 2011. The latest order comprises three in VIP transport configuration, and nine for the Indian Coast Guard.
Russia’s United Aircraft Corporation (UAC) expects to be able to sell between 50 and 70 of its new Superjet SJ-100 airliners to Indian carriers and another 250 to operators in China. During a press conference at this week’s Aero India show in Bangalore, UAC president Mikhail Pogosyan specifically mentioned Air India and Go Air as sales prospects for the narrowbody.
Russia’s defense industry is looking this week’s Aero India show as a platform from which to bounce back from recent defeats in international tender contests.