Namaste from Aero India

Aero India is a premier biannual aerospace exhibition and air show with participation from all defence and aerospace companies conducting business in India. The show attracts visits from the political, bureaucratic and military spectrum and it is a perfect venue for Saab to meet with government officials, supplier representatives and to interact with the public.

For this year’s exhibition, Aero India took place at Yelahanka Air Force Base just outside Bangalore. I was able to join the crew managing the Full Scale Replica (FSR) of Gripen E in Saab’s outdoor stand. The FSR team consisted of pilots, product specialists and mechanics, and our role was to answer the visitors’ questions about Gripen, let them sit in the cockpit and in general to help communicate our key messages for India – what we can offer and how we can do it together as a team. We also managed to hand out 15.000 caps in total during the air show and they were extremely popular (let me tell you, this was by no means an easy task!).

The show was open solely for business visitors the first three days and then for the public the last two days, so the questions we would get could be about anything from every single detail regarding the radar, what kind of paint we use for our fighters, to what the maximum speed of the aircraft is. Although some questions were completely out of my reach, there was always a colleague nearby who could pitch in with their knowledge and experience. Of course, some details are not meant to be shared, and I was very impressed by how well my colleagues managed to answer every question without giving too little nor too much information. In addition to the outdoor stand for the FSR, we had an indoor stand with many other products on display; Barracuda’s camouflage system, Dynamic’s Carl-Gustaf, IPS’ Air Traffic Management and Surveillance’ Giraffe 1X to mention a few examples. Overall, Aero India was a great opportunity for me to learn even more about Gripen’s capability and Saab’s offering as a whole.

This was my first time traveling to India and I did not really know what to expect other than spicy food and busy streets. Although this turned out to be true (which I don’t mind really), what struck me the most was how friendly the people was. People would ask me if I had had breakfast or lunch, and in case I hadn’t they would offer to treat me to it. Unfortunately, I was properly fed during the week so I never had reason to accept their offer, but I really appreciated the gesture. I didn’t have much time to explore the surroundings since we spent most of the days out at the air force base (or traveling to/from it), but what I managed to see was more than enough to make me wanting to go back.

The view from our outdoor stand covering the air strip.

Until next time,
Lukas Constantinou