More reports on: Defence general

US F16, F/A18 planes to give air show a miss this year

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13 February 2017

The change of administration in the US seems to have had an impact on the Aero India 2017 show in Bengaluru as F/A18 and F16 fighter aircraft will not be seen in action. This time, the event seems a low-priority affair for US firms and the administration.

A senior government officer said that the new US administration would like to review offers made by firms and that would slow down things.

''Companies too would like to wait to get more clarity from the government before they go ahead with their export offers. That may be the major reason for the low-key participation from the US,'' the officer said.

In the last Aero India, the US fighter jets F/A18 from Boeing and F16 from Lockheed Martin were among the major attractions when they took to the skies over Yelahanka near the city. ''This time F/A 18 is not coming and F16 too is unlikely to come as there is no information about it as of now,'' the official said. Most aircraft that are taking part in the flying display have already landed and some are expected on Sunday.

Senior officials from companies like Lockheed Martin and Boeing will be present and an official delegation from the US government too will be arriving in the city today, as US firms are offering their aircraft to the Indian Air Force (IAF). But the planes will be missing.

Lockheed Martin is offering one of its most proven platforms, the F16 to the IAF. The company has in fact offered to shift its F16 production line from the US to India if it gets a deal (See: Lockheed set to shift F-16 production to India if Trump permits).  The Trump administration is said to have cleared the company to negotiate the deal with India. However, since the F-16 Block 70 aircraft that the company is offering is still not ready, it may prefer to have its official at the show to make a presentation on the jet, instead of getting it to fly at the show, The New Indian Express reports.

 In the US, there is pressure on the aerospace industry to cut down expenditure. ''Deploying aircraft for airshows is a marketing exercise that involves huge expenditure and it also depends on availability of the aircraft. This time they may see no real reasons do so,'' sources added.

Air Marshal (retired) B K Pandey said, ''Overall, it's going to be a low key affair as the number of aircraft taking part in the show has come down from around 100 in the last show to around 70 this time.''

This time, the show is likely to be dominated by IAF aircraft Su-30 MKI, LCA Tejas, AJT Hawks that will fly as a formation flying team for the first time. IAF's Sarang formation flying team with Advanced Light Helicopters too will continue to be a major attraction at the show on all days.





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