Bengaluru: The US Air Force’s (USAF) two newest fifth-generation supersonic multirole F-35A aircraft made a historic debut at Aero-India here Monday, drawing strong interest and adding lustre to the five-day marquee event.
The two jets — F-35A Lightning II and F-35A Joint Strike Fighter — arrived at the Yelahanka Air Force station on the outskirts of Bengaluru after their respective journey from Utah and Alaska air force bases in the US.
Two Indian military officials said it is for the first time that F-35 aircraft of the US Air Force landed in India.
In addition to the two F-35s, an F-16 fighting Falcon duo from the US Air Force will conduct daily aerial demonstrations to showcase the capability of one of the force’s leading fighter jets.
The F/A-18E and F/A-18F Super Hornet, the US Navy’s most advanced frontline carrier-based multirole strike fighter aircraft are also part of the exhibits from the US.
“After a journey from Hill Air Force Base in Utah, United States, the F-35A Lightning II Demonstration Team will impress crowds with a demo of its unique aerial capabilities. The F-35A Lightning II from Eielson Air Force Base in Alaska will be on static display,” a readout by the US side said.
Major General Julian C Cheater, US Assistant Deputy Under Secretary of the Air Force and International Affairs said Aero India is an ideal forum to showcase the most advanced, lethal and interoperable weapons systems the US has to offer.
“The F-35 represents the leading edge of US fighter technology. Aero India is an ideal forum to showcase the most advanced, capable, lethal, and interoperable weapons systems the US has to offer. This system and others are designed to penetrate and defeat advanced adversary air defences,” he said.
The F-35’s engine produces 43,000 pounds of thrust and consists of a three-stage fan, a six-stage compressor, an annular combustor, a single-stage high-pressure turbine, and a two-stage low-pressure turbine.
Earlier Monday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi inaugurated Aero India, considered Asia’s largest aerospace exhibition.
In his address, Modi showcased India as an attractive destination for investment in the defence manufacturing sector and said the country will move towards becoming one of the leading exporters of military hardware globally backed by favourable economic policies.
The 14th edition of ‘Aero India’ is showcasing the country as an emerging hub for manufacturing of military aircraft, helicopters, military equipment and new-age avionics.
The exhibition is being participated by around 810 defence companies and delegates from 98 countries, officials said.
They said around 250 business-to-business agreements are expected to be firmed up at Aero India which is estimated to unlock investment to the tune of around Rs 75,000 crore.