Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman took off in the Indian Air Force’s frontline aircraft, the indigenously-built version of Sukhoi- 30 MKI fighter combat jet from the air base in Jodhpur on Wednesday, Jan 17 afternoon.
It is pride moment for all Indians’ as India’s first woman defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman and now became the second Indian woman leader, who flew in a Sukhoi 30 jet. Former Presidents Smt. Pratibha Patil and APJ Abdul Kalam had also flown on the fighter planes earlier.
In 2003, then defence minister George Fernandes became the first VIP to take a fighter sortie. In May 2016, Union minister Kiren Rijiju joined the elite list.
Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman strapped herself into a G-suit (Anti Gravity Suit) today and sat in the rear seat of the fighter behind the pilot and was in constant communication with the pilot in front through an intercom. This anti-gravity suit ensures comfort when the jet takes tight turns. She also wore a helmet with an oxygen mask. The Minister took the rear seat of the fighter
The supersonic jet took off from Jodhpur Air Force station this early afternoon. The sortie is likely to last for 30 minutes, defence sources were quoted as saying by NDTV.
Being a defence minister, she used to spend a lot of time travelling to Army, Air Force and Navy bases to understand their operations. A few days ago, she was onboard the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya in the Arabian sea to witness the operations of the MiG-29 fighter off the deck of the ship and other Naval exercises.
Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman meets the Air Warriors at the Air Force Station in Jodhpur before her sortie on the Sukhoi-30 MKI. These visits go a long way in enhancing the motivation of the defence personnel as they get an opportunity to interact with the Raksha Mantri personally.
“She is reviewing the operational preparedness and combat capabilities,” the sources said. After the sortie, Ms Sitharaman said she was “very proud and thankful” for the “eye-opening and memorable experience”. “It actually tells me with what rigour, practice, what level of readiness & how quickly they (the defence personnel) have to respond to situations,” she said. During the visit, she was also briefed on employment of air power in the defence of our country.
Sukhoi-30 MKI is a nuclear-capable aircraft which can penetrate deep into enemy territory. The twin-jet multirole air superiority fighter, Sukhoi-30 MKI, developed by Russia’s Sukhoi and built by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) for the Indian Air Force (IAF). A variant of the Sukhoi Su-30, it is a heavy, all-weather, long-range fighter.
Earlier, in November 2017, India had successfully flight-tested the air variant of BrahMos supersonic cruise missile from this fighter jet.
It’s a pride moment for Aapno Jodhpur, as Defence Minister chose Jodhpur airbase, which is near to Pakistan to fly in an IAF Sukhoi (Su-30 MKI) fighter aircraft. Jodhpur air base is considered to be the most powerful air base in Asia.
As the country’s first woman defence minister flew in the Su-30 MKI, the hands-on minister has in her own way paved the way for many more female fighter pilots in the Indian Air Force (IAF).
(Feature Image Courtesy: NewIndianExpress)