Friday, December 17, 2010

P81 aircraft to be inducted into INS Rajali soon

Rear Admiral DM Sudan, Assistant Chief of Naval Staff (Air), said Naval Air Station, INS Rajali, Arakkonam, was all set for major growth with the induction of the P81 aircraft – capable of long range maritime reconnaissance, anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare as well as search and rescue missions – in the near future.

He was speaking at the passing-out parade of the 75th Helicopter Conversion Course of the Helicopter Training School (HTS) located at INS Rajali. He awarded the “Wings of Gold” to nine trainee pilots from the Indian Navy and seven from the Coast Guard, including first two women pilots, a release said.

“It would be fitted with the best available sensors. We have to ensure that while we still continue to operate our existing assets, the new technology is imbibed and state-of-the-art platforms exploited to their full potential at the earliest,” he said.

He pointed out that INS Rajali had become one of the premier air stations of the Navy over the years.

The Navy, as indeed the Coast Guard, was at the threshold of a major expansion in aviation capability with new, advanced and capable aircraft in the pipeline for induction.

“As far as the fighter stream is concerned, the Indian Navy has already inducted the Mig 29 K aircraft and they have been based at Goa. With respect to helicopters, the process for procurement of multi-role helicopters is under way,” he said.

Upgrading the existing fleet of helicopters was under “active consideration.” The young pilots passing out on the occasion would surely be flying state-of-the-art helicopters soon, he added.

Noting that it was for the first time in the history of the HTS that six Commercial Pilot License holders from the Coast Guard were graduating, he said among them was the first batch of two women trainee pilots who have been trained by HTS.

“This is the first time that women officers are being inducted as helicopter pilots in the Coast Guard,” he said.

The helicopter stream of the Indian Navy and Coast Guard offered one of the most challenging dimensions of maritime operations. Operating helicopters from ships' deck demanded professional skill, grit and determination, he said.

The passing out parade was the culmination of 21 weeks of training in flying and aviation subjects held at HTS. The two women pilots – Assistant Commandant Bhawana Rana and Assistant Commandant Ruchi Sangwan – were the first two women pilots to graduate from the school. They were from Haryana.

The Governor of Kerala Rolling Trophy for the best all round trainee pilot was awarded to Lieutenant Rakesh. The Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Naval Command Rolling Trophy for the trainee pilot standing first in order of merit in flying was presented to Lieutenant Rakesh, while a book prize for standing first in ground subjects was awarded to Lieutenant Asoom Sharma, the release said.

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