Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman today donned a G-suit and took a 45-minute spin in the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) front-line Sukhoi Su-30 MKI fighter jet. Flying from Jodhpur Air Force station this morning, Sitharaman reviewed the operational preparedness of the IAF and combat capabilities of the fighter.
The first full-time female Defence Minister sat in the rear seat behind the pilot on the two-seater fighter. She has, in the last few months, visited a number of army, navy and air force bases across the country to boost the morale of the armed forces and assess their operational preparedness. Last week, Sitaraman spent a day on the aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, presiding over Indian Navy’s show of might off the western coast involving ten warships.
“Very proud and thankful that I’ve gone through this experience because it actually tells me with what rigor, practice, what level of readiness and how quickly they (defence personnel) have to respond to situations. It was eye-opening and memorable,” said Sitharaman after the sortie.
Sitaraman, however, is not the first women to fly in the Su-30MKI. Former Presidents Pratibha Patil took a spin on the fighter in 2009. Former President APJ Abdul Kalam, former defence minister George Fernandes and current Union Minister of State for Home Affairs, Kiren Rijiju, have gone on a sortie on the fighter jet.
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