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Aero India 2011 - Bangalore

Where? Bengaluru, Karnataka, India
When? 9-13/02/2011

When talking about India it is often referred to as the "World's largest democracy" – no wonder having around 1,2 billion inhabitants. However when looking at aviation photography it is a completely different world, as even civil aviation photography is far from normal or accepted, let alone taking photos of military aircraft. Aero India 2011 at the Yelahanka Air Base near Bangalore in the South of India was thus a welcome chance to get some military hardware in front of my lens.

The Airshow was held from February 9th – 13th, with Wednesday being the opening day and Saturday and Sunday opened to the public on a basis of a restricted number of tickets.
The opening day was the main highlight from a military point of view with the formation fly-pasts accompanying the official opening ceremony.
Though not as big as in the previous day it included a flag parade of three Mi-8, one Antonov An-32 together with two Do228 transport aircraft, two HAL IJT-36 trainer aircraft, five HAL Tejas LCA aircraft (a first-timer to see so many together in the air), five Jaguars trailing smoke and finally a nice break of three Su-30MKI.

 

 

Of high interest were of course the aircraft that the Indians would show off, and fortunately there were some of them. Split up between the Indian Air Force and the Industry (many HAL – Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd.) the flying program was well filled up.

The Indian Air Force presented the Su-30MKI in the flying display, which made good use of ist thrust-vectoring capability. And seeing the mighty Suchoi fighter jet graciously taking off to the sky once again was a fine sight indeed. Apart from that the display was unfortunately a bit high and far away, but nevertheless some closer fly-bys made up for nice photos.

 

 

Tejas LCA (Light Combat Aircraft) was the next highly expected item in the air. After receiving IOC late last year the HAL Test pilots worked out a display routine that should off some capabilities of this delta-winged light fighter. Looking at it from the outside the routine was not flown that tight and without any hard manoeuvres, but showed off the Tejas with good effect.

 

Another first was the first prototype of the LCH (Light Combat Helicopter), flying twice a day. Its performance looked very impressive looking at the fact that the helicopter has only accumulated around 60 flight hours and 60 flights before the show. However it had to cut its display on Thursday short and to land quickly. No details were revealed about the reasons, but it remained on the ground, only to take-off cautiously on Friday and returned back to the HAL factory.

 

 

The HAL IJT-36, the future light trainer for the Indian Air Force (IAF) was also up in the air. After its gear collapse in 2009 it performed well and the first example in IAF colours was also put in the static display.

At the beginning of each block the Army showed furthermore three Dhruvs transporting a car and fast-roping special commandos as well as a HAL Cheetah / Alouette helicopter.

 

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