Berlin: Germany's Federal chancellor, Dr Angela Merkel, declared the Berlin ILA 2008 air show officially open on Tuesday. In a short speech the chancellor said how proud she was to be in attendance on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the 'Berlin Airlift.' She also expressed her ''delight with the growing relationship with India,'' which is the air show's 'partner country' for this year.
India's defence minister, AK Antony, is representing the country at the air show.
The VIP party then took a 90 minute walk of the exhibition, which is expected to attract 115,000 visitors over the course of the three trade days. The German chancellor, in company with the Indian defence minister, also inaugurated the India Pavillion.
A large number of Indian companies – both public and private - as well as defence organisations are showcasing their capabilities and products at the air show. The composite India Pavillion, covering 1200 sq meters, has five defence public sector undertakings particiapting, namely Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), Bharat Earth Movers Ltd (BEML), Bharat Dynamics Ltd (BDL), Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL) and Mishra Dhatu Nigam Ltd (MIDHANI).
Other public sector units or government organisations participating in the show are the Ordnance Factory Board (OFB), the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO).
Private firms in attendance are the Tata Group, L&T, CADES, ACCORD and Saraswati Dynamics.
On the occasion defence minister, AK Antony, asked foreign aviation firms to "proactively" tap the booming Indian market. "Companies that proactively search out industry partners in India will gain in our expanding market," Antony said.
"Our strategic partnership with Germany has expanded to new sectors over the years. Germany is the second important source of technology for Indian companies and our largest trading partner in the European Union," Antony said.
"Our defence production and procurement policies are designed not only to further develop our capabilities but also engage in co-development and co-production with international manufacturers," Antony said.
"We believe that there is vast potential for cooperation between the defence industries in India and the industries in Germany, Europe and other nations.
"We need to identify this potential and enhance the level of cooperation and I hope our participation in the event will act as a catalyst in this process," he said.
German Aerospace Industries Association (BDLI) president, and chief executive of Airbus, Thomas Enders, said, ''ILA is the most important meeting of the year on the European continent for the German industry and has become one of the few sustainable expanding industries which has bucked the current trend by actually creating more jobs. Once again the aerospace industry here at the ILA is demonstrating its innovative and productive capabilities with a combination of outstanding technological achievements, economic success and the fascination of flight.''
The 'Sarang' helicopter aerobatics display team of the Indian Air Force enthralled the large number of visitors with a scintillating display. The Air Warriors Symphony Orchestra also performed at the air show.