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10:00 AM, May 11, 2016
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Sea Harrier aircraft flying over INS Vikrant. Image credits: BAE Systems

The Indian Navy today de-inducted its ageing Sea Harrier aircraft, replacing them with MiG-29K fighter aircraft.

The Sea Harriers displayed a vertical landing formation at INS Hansa during the de-induction event today.

"Its a distinct honour and proud privilege to induct multi-role supersonic MiG 29K in the 300 squadron. It marks the induction of multi-role supersonic technology in Indian Navy," Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral R K Dhowan said addressing the gathering at Goas INS Hansa base in Vasco, PTI reported.

He hailed all the pilots who flew Sea Harriers, which was considered as one of the most difficult aircraft to fly.

Sea Harriers, built by BAE System, were inducted in the Indian Navy following phasing out of then obsolete Seahawks.

Commenting on the ceremony, Alistair Castle, Vice President and General Manager , BAE Systems India said: “We are very proud of our support to the Indian Navy in keeping the iconic Sea Harriers airworthy over the last 33 years. Three decades ago, when the Sea Harriers were inducted, these aircraft with modern weaponry, avionics and an engine which could land the aircraft vertically, defying all the laws of aerodynamics, introduced V/STOL for the Indian Navy. On this symbolic day, we re-dedicate ourselves to our partnership with the Indian Navy through our continued support on the Hawk advanced jet trainer”.

In September 1980, the Sea Harrier Project (SHARP) was formed with select naval aviators and technical personnel for coordination of trials, testing, acceptance and training.

The first newly-built Sea Harrier for the Indian Navy (IN 601) was ready on December 21, 1982, the Navy said in a statement issued here.

The first three Sea Harriers flying via Malta, Luxor and Dubai, led by Lt Cdr Arun Prakash VrC, 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 March 29, 1984.

"In last few years, the Harriers added a new dimension to their operations with the increased multinational exercises in which the Indian Navy participates," the statement added.

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