Thank you Tom, for that kind introduction, and many thanks also, to you and your team, for the wonderful job you’ve done in helping to organize the American Pavilion – I know a lot of work goes into arranging all of this, and it certainly shows here today. To the official delegation from the United States, leaders of U.S. industry, and friends from around the world, it is truly my privilege to join you here for Aero India 2015. As a former Air Force officer, I feel particularly at home here at Yelahanka, surrounded by these amazing aircraft and the occasional “sound of freedom” roaring overhead.
We have already heard inspiring messages from Prime Minister Modi and Defence Minister Parrikar and witnessed an impressive display of some of the platforms here this week. After a full morning schedule, I know you’re all anxious to start walking the grounds and get down to business. But if you’ll permit me, I’d like to take a few moments to remark on the importance of what we’re doing here today.
Americans love airshows like this for a number of reasons:
- They provide an opportunity to exhibit the best of our aviation and defense technology
- They provide opportunities for networking and business development,
- They hopefully lead to a few sales (we are capitalists, after all)
- And of course, they allow us to witness some incredible displays by aircraft from around the world
But most importantly from my perspective, they allow us to demonstrate our commitment to the strategic relationship with key international partners. And in 2015, there are few strategic relationships more important to the United States than the one we enjoy with India.
Our dedication to that relationship was evident just three weeks ago during President Obama’s visit to Delhi. His attendance as the Guest of Honor at the Republic Day Parade during his historic second trip to India was certainly important symbolically. But even more significant were the substantive strategic and defense agreements that came out of that visit: release of the U.S.-India Joint Strategic Vision for the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean Region, finalization of the Framework for the U.S.-India Defense Relationship, and our announcement to pursue four specific collaborative projects under the Defense Technology and Trade Initiative.
And our commitment is on display again today, in the impressive array of American military platforms and personnel, the high-level official delegation in attendance, and of course, the 43 individual companies that made the long journey from the United States. The presence of such a diverse group – active duty military, government officials, and private defense contractors – truly demonstrates the breadth of our commitment to this Strategic Partnership, and I know your great work this week will provide ample evidence of its depth, as well.
So with that, I think it’s time for us to get started. It is my great pleasure to officially declare the American Pavilion at Aero India 2015 open. My best wishes for a successful and productive show!