4:56 PM: With $250 billion expected to be spent on defence, India asserted itself at the on-going Aero Expo. The Prime Minister asked defence contractors winning bids to supply India not only the equipment but also the technology behind the equipment.

India's offsets policy requires defence contractors to invest a specified percentage on the total value of the deal to be invested in India, which will now be recaliberated to encourage further technology transfer and move away from mere assembling and local production.

"We have the reputation as the largest importer of defence equipment. This may be music to the ears of some of you. But this is an area where we do not want to be number one," the Prime Minister said, according to Reuters.

"It will no longer be enough to buy equipment and simply assemble here."

3:29 PM: Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar noted that the Defence Ministry was undergoing  major offsets, of which, some are "in chaos". Major changes to rules and regulations expected to boost the small and medium enterprises.

3:20 PM: Pictures from Aero India 2015.

IAF aircrafts perform aerobatics during the Aero India-2015 Air Show, at Yelahanka Air-force Station, in Bengaluru on Feb 18, 2015. (Photo: IANS)
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IAF aircrafts perform aerobatics during the Aero India-2015 Air Show, at Yelahanka Air-force Station, in Bengaluru on Feb 18, 2015. (Photo: IANS)
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IAF aircrafts perform aerobatics during the Aero India-2015 Air Show, at Yelahanka Air-force Station, in Bengaluru on Feb 18, 2015. (Photo: IANS)

2:54 PM: Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar addresses press conference at Aero India 2015, hints at a dedicated 'Make in India' policy in defence of SME manufacturers.

2:52 PM: Crowds throng stalls representing Israeli and Chinese weapon manufacturers.

2:33 PM: A 1932 aircraft named 'Tiger Moth' takes to the air. The aircraft, restored for current year's show, is participating for the first time in an aero show. 

12:49 PM: India's Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar to address a press conference soon.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi declares Aero India 2015, Asia's largest air show, open on Wednesday in Bengaluru. 

He used the occasion to make a strong case for indigenisation of defence equipment, in line with his ambitious "Make in India" programme.

"A nation with a strong defence industry will not only be more secure. It will also reap rich economic benefits," Modi said at the 10th edition of the biennial event, which is being attended by more than 300 global defence equipment makers eyeing one of the world's lucrative arms market.

He added, "It can boost investment, expand manufacturing, support enterprise, raise the technology level and increase economic growth in the country."

The Air Force Station at Yelahanka in the British-era garrison city is hosting the five-day international version of the aerospace and aviation industry.

Aero India Bangalore
Visitors cheer as they watch Russian Knights, the aerobatic team of the Russian Air Force, performing in their Sukhoi Su-27 and Su-27UB fighter aircraft during "Aero India 2013" on the outskirts of the southern Indian city of Bangalore February 8, 2013.Reuters

'Make in India' - Beginning of a new era

"This is the beginning of a new era for the defence industry in India," said Modi, emphasising the emergence of India as a major global centre for defence industry, reports IndiaToday.

The Prime Minister spoke of the need to improve India's defence preparedness and develop defence systems under the "Make in India" programme.

"We will build an industry that will have room for everyone – public sector, private sector and foreign firms. From sellers, foreign firms must turn into strategic partners," Modi said. 

Modi called on the international defence firms to set shop in India so that the country becomes part of their global supply-chain, according to The Hindu.

"We need their technology, skills, systems integration and manufacturing strength. The nature of industry is such that imports will always be there. In turn, they can use India as part of their global supply chain," Modi added.

"Defence output will double if domestic procurement goes up from 40 pc to 70 pc in next five years," Modi said.

The Prime Minister stressed upon the need to reduce imports in the defence sector, adding that even a reduction by 20-25% in imports, would create direct jobs of 1 lakh to 1.2 lakh highly skilled jobs.

He noted that if India is to increase local procurement of defence equipment from 40% to 70% over the next five years, it will results in doubling of India's defence output.

Domestic and International Participation

Aero India 2015 is being attended by about 600 companies, of which about 295 are Indian firms and the rest, global companies.

Fifty-four ministerial and high-level delegations from various arms-exporting nations are also participating in the expo. A total of 34 countries are participating this year, which is said to be the largest and most expansive in the history of the show. 

The US is represented by 64 companies, followed by France with a presence of 58 companies. Besides, manufacturers from the UK, Russia and Israel will also have strong participation at the event. 

The Israeli defence Minister Moshe Ya'alon is also in India, bringing with him a huge contingent of chief executives of major defence companies.

Organisers expect the exhibition to expand by almost 50% over the 15 lakh visitors in 2013.

Cult Following

Aero India sees throngs of aviation aficionados descending at the venue to witness spectacular stunts performed by pilots from across the world, flying fighter jets, transport aircraft and helicopters. Display of flying skills by aerobatic teams enthrall visitors at the show. 

The airshow would see stunts and aerobatic displays by the Indian Air Force, air display teams from Chezh Republic, Sweden and the UK. An open sky jump by the US Special Forces is also planned, said The Financial Express.

French defence giant Dassault has bought three Rafale fighter aircraft to showcase the aerobatic capabilities of an aircraft, shortlisted by the IAF for 126 next generation fighter aircraft. Talks have broken down over local manufacturing clauses.

Made in India equipment 

India would have on display its indigenously developed Tejas single engine aircraft, after decades of development.

The display includes 11 aircrafts of which seven come from US - one C-17 Globemaster III, a Boeing KC-135 tanker , two F-15C Eagles, two F-16C Fighting Falcons and a P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft.

KC-135 Stratotanker
A U.S Air Force KC-135 Stratotanker is seen parked during "Aero India 2013" on the outskirts of the southern Indian city of Bangalore February 9, 2013.