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    Sitharaman flies in Sukhoi for 40 minutes in Rajasthan

    JODHPUR: India’s first woman defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday donned an olive green flight suit to fly in Indian Air Force’s frontline aircraft, Sukhoi Su-30 MKI — an indigenously-built twinengine fighter jet capable of carrying out nuclear strikes.

    HT PHOTO■ Defence minister Nirmala Sitharaman at the Air Force station in Rajasthan on Wednesday.

    The supersonic jet carrying Sitharaman, piloted by Group Captain Sumit Garg, took off from the Air Force station here in Rajasthan. She was seen seated in the cockpit for the 40-minute sortie. The minister told the media that she felt “very proud and thankful” to the Air Force for the experience.

    “It actually tells me with what rigour, practice, what level of readiness and how quickly they (defence personnel) have to respond to situations. It was eye-opening and memorable,” Sitharaman said.

    With this, Sitharaman became the second Indian woman leader to fly in a Sukhoi-30 jet. Earlier, then President Pratibha Patil had flown in the fighter in 2009.

    Sitharaman donned a helmet with oxygen mask and wore a flight overall and a G-Suit, also called anti-gravity suit — worn by pilots for comfort when the jet takes turns.

    The minister tweeted her pictures familiarizing herself with the fighter aircraft before taking off. The Sukhoi SU-30 MKI is a multi-role fighter developed by Russia’s Sukhoi and built under licence by India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL).

    After taking over as defence minister in September, Sitharaman has been visiting Army, Air Force and Naval bases frequently.


    I’m very proud and thankful’

    ‘I’m very proud and thankful’
    PTI

    In an olive green pilot’s G-suit and a helmet, Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday soared high on a Sukhoi-30 MKI jet, the first Indian woman Defence Minister to go on a sortie on the all-weather, long-range fighter. The supersonic jet took off at 1 pm; after a 45-minute flight seated behind the pilot, Group Captain Sumit Garg, Sitharaman, 58, was back at Jodhpur Air Force station. Then President Pratibha Patil had also flown in the jet in 2009, as did APJ Abdul Kalam. In 2003, then Defence Minister George Fernandes had also taken a sortie aboard an SU-30 jet.


    Defence Minister Sitharaman flies in Sukhoi-30 MKI aircraft

    Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman waves from the cockpit of IAF’s Sukhoi-30 MKI plane before taking off for a sortie, in Jodhpur on Wednesday. PTI

    IAF’s Sukhoi-30 MKI plane, carrying Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, takes off for a sortie, in Jodhpur on Wednesday. PTI

    Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman boards IAF’s Sukhoi-30 MKI plane for a sortie, in Jodhpur on Wednesday. PTI

    Our Correspondent

    Jaipur, January 17

    After her recent visit to INS Vikramaditya, the aircraft carrier of the Indian Navy, Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday flew in the formidable Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter aircraft of 31 Squadron on her visit to Air Force Station Jodhpur. In her 45 minutes of sortie, she was demonstrated some of the unique characteristics and strengths of this mighty twin engine Air Superiority Fighter (ASF). She is the first woman defence minister of India to fly a sortie in an IAF Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter aircraft, according a Defence Ministry PRO Lieutenant Colonel Manish Ojha here.       To gauge the operational capability and preparedness of the defence forces, the 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 defence minister herself, Ojha said.       After her sortie on the multi-role ASF, she addressed and interacted with the air warriors of the Air Force Station, Jodhpur, and congratulated them on their professionalism, high state of morale and motivation.During the visit, she was also briefed on employment of air power in the defence of our country.Owing to its versatile capabilities, Sukhoi-30 MKI forms an integral and the most potent component of our nation’s air power. 


    Chinese build­up on Doklam mostly temporary: Army chief

    RAISINA DIALOGUE General Bipin Rawat advocates curbs on the internet to control propaganda, stricter control on arms making

    NEW DELHI: Indian army chief General Bipin Rawat said on Wednesday that the Chinese military has carried out a “mostly temporary” build-up in Doklam, the site of a tense standoff between the two countries last summer, even as media reports cited new satellite images to say that the infrastructure included a “full-fledged” military base.

    “They have carried out some infrastructure development, most of it is temporary in nature. But while their troops may have returned and the infrastructure remains, it is anybody’s guess whether they would come back there, or it is because of the winter they could not take their equipment away,” Rawat said during a session in the multi-lateral ‘Raisina Dialogue’.

    He added that the Indian army does not visualise serious trouble, “but then one has to be prepared for it”.

    NDTV and ThePrint reported that satellite pictures taken on December 10, 2017 — roughly three-and-a-half months after India and China agreed to end their stand-off — showed new helipads, trenches and construction work at the Doklam plateau.

    ThePrint described one of the constructions as “concrete” and said that there was at least one complete mechanised regiment deployed.

    According to NDTV, the build-up was at two locations at the Doklam plateau and one of them was “a massive, fullfledged Chinese military complex”. Rawat said that Indian and Chinese troops now have a mechanism to effectively address their issues.

    “After the Dolam incident…we have started our border personnel meeting. We are meeting regularly, exchanges are taking place, communications between the commanders at the ground level is on and the bonhomie has returned which was prior to the Dolam (incident),” he said.

    Last week, Rawat had said that India should shift its focus from the border with Pakistan to the boundary with China, portions of which remain unmarked.

    “The time has come for India to shift focus to its northern border. The country is capable of handling China’s assertiveness… China is a powerful country but we are not a weak nation,” the army chief had said at a press conference in New Delhi on Friday.


    Ageing Mi-26s in for fresh lease of life

    Ageing Mi-26s in for fresh lease of life
    The three grounded heavy-lift copters will get additional 100 flying hours each. File photo

    Vijay Mohan

    Tribune News Service

    Chandigarh, January 17

    Even as the Indian Air Force prepares to induct the US-made Chinook heavy-lift helicopter, it has set in motion the process for life extension of the ageing Soviet-origin Mi-26 that has been forming its heavy-lift component since 1985.The IAF has three Mi-26, the world’s largest helicopter, based at Chandigarh with 126 Helicopter Flight. The Total Technical Life (TTL) of two of these machines expired in September 2013 and August 2014 and these have since been non-operational.The IAF has contracted for 15 CH-47 Chinooks, which are expected to start arriving in 2019. The IAF at present is constrained to rely on a single heavy-lift helicopter to carry out strategic tasks. At 20 tonnes, the payload capability of the Mi-26 is almost double that of the Chinook.Two Mi-26s were initially procured in 1986 with two more in 1989. One was lost in a freak accident in 1998, when it toppled over due to a gust of wind. This was replaced by a new helicopter in October 2002. A second Mi-26 was lost in a crash during take-off from Jammu in 2010.Sources say the IAF has approached the Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant in Russia, seeking a proposal for ferrying all three helicopters to Russia for overhaul as well as undertaking a special life extension programme.The IAF is looking at extending the TTL of the helicopters by 100 flying hours each, an officer said. As of December 2017, the two older machines had put in a total of about 2,400 flying hours each, which comes to an average of about 85 per annum till the time they were operational.The third helicopter, which has a TTL of 8,000 hours as stipulated by the manufacturer, has logged about 1,450 till December 2017, averaging 96 hours annually. It had been given special life extension for two years during an overhaul and inspection done earlier, sources said.Only one operational

    • The IAF currently has only one operational heavy-lift Mi-26 to carry out its strategic tasks. The world’s largest helicopter can carry 20 tonne payload
    • The IAF has approached a Russian plant to ferry the three copters in its fleet for undertaking a special life extension programme
    • US-made CH-47 Chinook heavy-lift helicopter will replace the ageing Mi-26. The first of 15 are likely to start arriving in 2019

     


    Don’t see serious trouble, but forces ready for any exigency: Army chief on Doklam

    Don’t see serious trouble, but forces ready for any exigency: Army chief on Doklam
    Army chief General Bipin Rawat. File photo

    New Delhi, January 17

    The Army does not visualise any “serious trouble” post-Doklam episode as the border forces of India and China are holding regular exchange and the earlier “bonhomie” has returned, but the forces are prepared for any exigency, Army chief General Bipin Rawat said on Wednesday.Rawat also insisted that the PLA soldiers were not in the same numbers in the North Dolam (Doklam) area as they were at the time of the (India-China military) stand-off.“They have carried out some infrastructure development, most of it is temporary in nature. But while their troops may have returned and the infrastructure remains, it is anybody’s guess whether they would come back there, or it is because of the winter they could not take their equipment away,” Rawat said.He was responding to a question on Facebook Live, posted by the Observer Research Foundation (ORF), one of the organisers of the multi-lateral ‘Raisina Dialogue’.“But then we are also there. In case they come (back), we will face them,” Rawat added.The Army chief’s remarks come in the wake of media reports about China carrying out some infrastructure development in the disputed region.He said the mechanism in place to defuse the tensions between the two countries is working very well.“After the Dolam incident…we have started our border personnel meeting. We are meeting regularly, exchanges are taking place, communications between the commanders at the ground level is on and the bonhomie has returned which was prior to the Dolam (incident),” he said.The Army chief added, “We don’t visualise serious trouble but then one has to be prepared for it.”Indian and Chinese troops had been locked in a stand-off for over two months last year in the Doklam area near Sikkim before “disengaging” on August 28.There was also an incident of road building by Chinese civilians at Tuting in Arunachal Pradesh, but that was resolved last week. — PTI


    195 security personnel killed in terror incidents in 3 yrs: Govt

    195 security personnel killed in terror incidents in 3 yrs: Govt
    Photo for representational purpose only. File

    Jammu, January 17

    The Jammu Kashmir government on Wednesday said 195 security personnel lost their lives in the last three years in terror incidents in the Kashmir Valley.

    In a written reply to a question of BJP’s Ramesh Arora, Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti told the Legislative Council that 195 security personnel were killed in “terrorist-related violence” in the last three years in the Valley.

    Of these, 78 were killed in 2017, 74 in 2016 and 43 in 2015, she said. PTI


    Pak troops fire at LoC posts in Poonch; Army captain injured

    Pak troops fire at LoC posts in Poonch; Army captain injured
    There was a ceasefire violation by the Pakistan Army. PTI file

    Jammu, January 17

    Pakistani troops opened fire on Indian posts along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir’s Poonch district, injuring an Army captain, officials said.There was a ceasefire violation by the Pakistan Army.They resorted to firing along the LoC in Chakan Da Bagh area in Poonch on Tuesday evening, a security force official said.

    (Follow The Tribune on Facebook; and Twitter @thetribunechd)

    The injured Army captain had been hospitalised, they said.The Indian troops retaliated and the exchange of fire continued till Tuesday night, they said.The latest violation of the ceasefire came a day after seven Pakistani Army men, including a major, were killed and four others injured in retaliatory action by the Indian Army in Poonch.Authorities had on Monday suspended the cross-LoC bus service between Chakan Da Bagh and Rawalakot, following heightened tension on the LoC. PTI