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Navy to bid adieu to Sea Harriers on Wednesday

Inducted in 1983, the Sea Harriers have dominated the sky protecting the fleetfrom prying eyes of foreign Long Range Maritime Patrol aircraft. File photo.

Inducted in 1983, the Sea Harriers have dominated the sky protecting the fleetfrom prying eyes of foreign Long Range Maritime Patrol aircraft. File photo.  

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INAS 300 to induct the MiG 29K/Kub fighter planes

The Indian Naval Air Squadron 300 (INAS 300), ‘White Tigers,’ are set to phase out the Sea Harriers fighter aircrafts and make way for new generation of fighters in lieu on Wednesday.

The INAS 300 will thereafter induct the MiG 29K/Kub fighters.

The Sea Harriers are planned to be given a hero’s send off during a ceremony presided over by Admiral R.K. Dhowan, Chief of Naval Staff, at INS Hansa, Dabolim in south Goa on Wednesday.

Traditional Change of Command ceremonies will be held where Commander Shikhu Raj, a Sea Harrier pilot, hands over the command of the squadron to Captain KHV Singh, a MiG 29K pilot. The ceremony will also include an air display by Sea Harriers and MiG 29Ks which will mark the last flight of the Sea Harriers in the Indian Navy. A large number of serving and retired Sea Harrier pilots are expected to attend the function.

Inducted in the year 1983 the Sea Harriers have dominated the sky protecting the fleet from prying eyes of foreign Long Range Maritime Patrol aircraft. The first three Sea Harriers, landed at Dabolim on December 16, 1983. This was followed by the first deck landing on the carrier, INS Vikrant, on December 20, 1983 and the arrival of the first Sea Harrier T Mk 60 trainer, on Mar 29, 1984.

Designed and manufactured by the British Aerospace, Sea Harrier is a naval Short/Vertical Take-Off and Landing (VSTOL) jet fighter, reconnaissance and strike aircraft. It first entered service with the Royal Navy in April 1980. Its ability of vertical takeoff and landing is the most unique feature of this fighter. The fighters were capable of Air to Air refuelling to operate at extended ranges.

Air defence

The principal role of the subsonic Sea Harrier was to provide air defence to naval fleet by operating from their aircraft carriers.

The Sea Harrier is equipped with four wing and one fuselage pylons for carrying weapons and external fuel tanks in addition to two removable 30 mm Aden Gunpods on the fuselage. The Sea Harrier was fitted with anti-ship Sea Eagle missile providing the best stand-off range anti ship capability to the fleet.

Falklands War success

The aircraft were operated by Indian Navy and Royal Navy. The squadron was deployed during the Operation Vijay and embarked on the carrier during Operation Parakram providing the essential offensive posture to the country and ensuring readiness to react to any escalation by the enemy.

As part of the Royal Navy, Sea Harriers have served in the Falklands War, both of the Gulf Wars, and the Balkans conflicts. Its usage in the Falklands War (1982) was its most high profile and important success, where it was the only fixed-wing fighter available to protect the British Task Force over 8,000 miles from homeland.

The fighters were de-inducted from the Royal Navy in the year 2006 and operated for the last time from INS Viraat on March 6, 2016.

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Printable version | Dec 15, 2019 4:06:13 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/navy-to-bid-adieu-to-sea-harriers-on-wednesday/article8573223.ece

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