A five-day international air show held in Bangalore city recently attracted as many as 240 companies from 31 countries.

They included giants such as Boeing and Airbus on the civil aviation front and Lockheed Martin from the United States and France's Snecma on the military side.

These companies are eyeing a potentially huge market in India. A host of domestic airlines are expected to snap up more than three hundred passenger aircraft over the coming years. Analysts say India could spend up to $35 billion on new jets in the next 20 years.

Steadily falling prices for air travel and an expanding economy have made it possible for many more Indians to fly.

The French aviation group Dassault says the country's strong economic growth has also opened up an opportunity to sell business jets in India.

In addition, the Indian air force plans to buy 126 new warplanes. The United States, Sweden, France and Russia are all vying for a share of that market.

But India is not content with being just a buyer. Defense Minister Pranab Mukherjee says the air show provided an opportunity to global aviation companies to explore the potential of joint ventures with India's state-run aerospace industry. "It is an ideal forum to explore business opportunities as well as to facilitate joint ventures, collaborations and tie-ups for mutual benefit. It is emerging as an important platform for showcasing capabilities of both Indian and foreign companies in design, development and production of aircraft and ground systems both for defense and civil sectors," he said.

Indian officials say foreign aviation companies can profit by outsourcing research, design and some manufacturing work to India, which has high technical expertise and low costs.

Some already plan to collaborate with Indian companies. Lockheed Martin has signed an agreement with an Indian company to share data on its P-3 Orion surveillance aircraft. France's Snecma says it plans a joint venture in India to make engine parts.

And Boeing says it has signed a pact with a technology company to develop a platform for a flight test system.