HAL told to conduct Aero India 2023 in Bangalore from 13th to 17th February - Broadsword by Ajai Shukla

By Vikas Gupta

Trade Standard, Nov 25, 23

Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), which would usually be the country’s first exhibitor at Aero India 2023 in February, has instead been instructed by the Ministry of Defense (MoD) to concentrate on organizing and conducting the air show.

A letter sent by the MoD’s Department of Defense Production (DDP) to the Bengaluru-based aerospace design and manufacturing company on Wednesday said: “It has been decided that HAL will be the nodal organization on behalf of the MoD/DDP for driving the 14eedition of Aero India 2023 (sic). The letter has been reviewed in detail by Defence News of India.

“The Honorable Raksha Mantri (Minister of Defence) has approved that the DDP will lead the 14eedition of Aero India 2023 at Air Force Station, Yelahanka, Bangalore, from 13e– 17eFebruary 2023,” the MoD letter read.

A subordinate department of MoD called Defense Exhibition Organization (DEO) is responsible for organizing defense exhibitions and air shows. From 1996 to 2017, he organized 11 Aero India shows in Bangalore.

However, in 2018 the perceived incompetence of the DEO caused the DDP to transfer responsibility for the conduct of DefExpo 2018 to HAL, which also hosted the biennial Aero India shows in 2019 and 2021.

Bharat Electronics Ltd (BEL), which would also normally use the Aero India lounge to display its capabilities and to network and form partnerships with other companies, was also invited to help conduct and organize the square.

“BEL, being a DPSU (Defence Public Sector Company) based in Bengaluru, will also be assigned roles and responsibilities in the conduct of this mega exhibition,” the DDP letter reads.

HAL officials and technicians express frustration at being pulled from a series of carefully prepared aerospace development projects, including the design and development of the Tejas Mark 1A, Tejas Mark 2, medium combat aircraft (AMCA) fifth-generation, sixth-generation, Combat Autonomous Teaming System (CATS), Dhruv Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH), Prachanda Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), and Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) .

“HAL is no longer a subordinate installation of the MoD. A share of the business is now in public hands and the MoD cannot stop HAL from using Aero India 2023 as a business opportunity,” said a senior HAL official.

DEO officials say organizing an Aero India or Defense Expo usually takes around Rs 100 crore. If this amount is reimbursed by the MoD to HAL, the management of expenses and the maintenance of accounts mobilize a significant part of the attention of the accounting departments of HAL and BEL.

There is frustration among HAL officials, who complain that the company appears to have been tasked with organizing a defense exhibition every year. “While general details of the responsibilities of the two DPSUs are attached, the experience gained from previous shows should be used fruitfully to ensure the success of Aero India 2023,” the MoD letter reads.

When contacted for comment on why a production agency like HAL was being used to stage a defense exhibition, neither the MoD nor HAL responded.