Aero showBengaluru: Devotees chasing ‘things with wings’ will descend on Aeronautical Capital of India soon for the ‘11th International Show on Aerospace, Defence, Civil Aviation, Airport Infrastructure and Defence Engineering’ a.k.a. Aero India 2017.

Exactly one month from today, from February 14 to 18, all roads will lead to Air Force Station (AFS) Yelahanka, which has been hosting all editions of Aero India since 1996.

While the 10th edition, in 2015, saw a record participation of exhibitors, the organisers say a new benchmark will be set this time. With the extended Christmas and New Year Holidays finally getting over, more foreign companies are expected to make a last-minute pitch in the next 15 days.

“As of now, we have sold out 100 per cent of the space allotted for exhibitors. There will be now another set of booking till the end of January, with the holiday season getting over,” says an official.

Aero show

As per the records put out officially, in 2015, exhibitors from 33 countries participated in the show. A total of 644 companies (326 overseas + 318 domestic) and 46 overseas delegations participated over a gross exhibition area of 108,250 sqm, which was around 44% more than the 2013 show.

The United States was the leading participant with 64 companies in 2015, with France coming second with 58 companies, followed by UK (48), Russia (41), Israel (25), Germany (17) to name a few.

The Ministry of Defence has called for a meeting next week in Delhi to assess the preparations for the show. The meeting is likely to be chaired by Secretary (Defence Production) A K Gupta.

Aero show

According to Indian Air Force (IAF) officials, the preparation for this year’s show began six months in advance.

The Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa is said to have already been briefed about the security preparedness, the expected footfall and the tentative inaugural day plan. Post-Pathankot terror strike last year and security across all air bases has been heightened.

“Security will be top priority at AFS Yelahanka this time. Apart from the three-tier security arrangements, we will have some additional plans in place. The IAF, CISF, Guard Commandoes and Army Commandoes and additional forces will be in place,” says an official.

The Intelligence Bureau teams have already begun the surveillance of areas in and around AFS Yelahanka. Recent settlers in the vicinity, details of occupants in hi-rise buildings are being gathered now.

AFS Yelahanka will see 250 cameras being installed covering the entire peripheral walls. This is in addition to the 250 cameras which monitored every nook and corner of the base in 2015.

Aero show

To ease the traffic congestion on the new Airport Road during the show, a new plan is being chalked out by the Bengaluru City Traffic Police. The police are mulling over the idea of making the extreme left lane from Hebbal Flyover exclusively for those heading to the airport.

The IAF on its part has offered MoD to create more entry and exit gates at AFS Yelahanka to ease the traffic congestion. With security being increased this time, frisking and checking the antecedents of every visitor is likely to add to the traffic woes.

“But MoD has to take the final call,” says an official.

Trials landings on helipads that have been identified as part of the disaster management plan are expected to begin next week.

Aero show

The Tejas No. 45 Squadron (Flying Daggers) will be cynosure of all eyes this time. It will be the first time Tejas will be participating at Aero India, post its induction into IAF last year. Among other home-grown products HTT-40 and LUH from the hangars of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd and Rustom-2 from Defence Research and Development Organisation are expected to make an impact at the show.

(The writer is the Content Consultant with Mathrubhumi (English Online) and tweets @writetake..  In the next one month, Mathrubhumi English will be bringing comprehensive reports of Aero India-2017, with special focus on the unsung heroes of IAF.)