Nirmala Sitharaman Takes to Skies in SU-30 MKI
After her recent visit to INS Vikramaditya, the aircraft carrier of the Indian Navy, the Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman has created history by becoming the first Indian woman defence minister to fly a sortie in India’s frontline fighter Su-30 MKI. On her recent visit to Air Force Station Jodhpur, the minister has taken to the skies in the formidable Su-30 MKI fighter aircraft of 31 Squadron. Clad in an olive-green pilots G- suit, she has flown the formidable jet from the rear cockpit. In her 45 minutes of sortie, she has witnessed the demonstration of some of the unique characteristics and strengths of this mighty twin engine Air Superiority Fighter (ASF).
Nirmala Sitharaman has become the second Indian woman leader to fly in a Sukhoi-30 MKI after then president Pratibha Patil did so in 2009. Sitharaman is also the second defence minister after George Fernandes to fly in a Sukhoi-30 MKI. To gauge the operational capability and preparedness of the defence forces, the Defence Minister has been visiting various establishments of the Armed Forces. These visits go a long way in enhancing the motivation of the defence personnel as they get an opportunity to personally interact with the minister herself.
After her sortie on the multirole ASF, she has addressed and interacted with the Air Warriors of Air Force Station, Jodhpur and congratulated them on their professionalism, high state of morale and motivation. During the visit, she has been briefed on employment of Air Power in the defence of our country.
Owing to its versatile capabilities, Su-30 MKI forms an integral and the most potent component of the nation’s Air Power. Recently, ‘BrahMos’ Supersonic Air Launched Cruise Missile and ‘Astra’ Beyond Visual Range Air-to-Air Missile, have been integrated and successfully fired from this fighter. With these advancements, the reach with air-to-air refuelling and standoff performance, Su-30 MKI is a truly potent platform and is bolstering IAF’s strategic capabilities, Sitharaman said.