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Fernandes to discard kurta pyjama
for flying suit

June 20, 2003 20:53 IST

Defence Minister George Fernandes, who has refused to don formal suits even at his meetings with foreign heads of state, will have to discard his kurta pyjama in favour of a flying suit to undertake his historic fighter sortie on Sunday.

Fernandes, Indian Air Force officials said, would also have to undergo mandatory medical tests before undertaking a 30 to 45 minute flying sortie on board the IAF's frontline SU-30MKI from the Pune air base.

The defence minister will be flying on the SU 30 fighter of the IAF's chequered Number 20 squadron, which has won laurels during both the 1965 and 1971 wars.

Wing Commander A S Jamwal, the seniormost pilot of the squadron, would captain the twin seater fighter aircraft.

According to his tentative programme, Fernandes would as any fighter pilot get his pre-flight meals between 0600 to 0630 hours and then change over to a G-suit for flying.

For the next 90 minutes, the defence minister would be put through a rigorous cockpit familiarisation course followed by a brief rest after which he will undergo the mandatory medical tests. He will take to the skies around 1100 IST.

While the IAF was tightlipped about the kind of manoeuvres the Sukhoi would undertake, sources said complicated ones would be avoided.

The minister will utilise this opportunity to understand first hand the capabilities of this state-of-the-art fighter aircraft, an IAF release said on Friday.

Fernandes would interact with the personnel who fly and maintain it.

The SU 30 MKI, which is a generational leap in air power, was inducted into the IAF in September 2002.

With a greatly enhanced firepower, it has almost the same manoeuvrability as an aerobatics plane and is expected to fill the void of an Air Dominance Fighter (ADF) in the IAF.

The Defence Research Development Organisation and the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited had developed many of the avionics in the Russian-designed aircraft.

The mission computer, display processes, radar computer and other avionics have been developed by the DRDO and HAL, the release said.

More reports from Maharashtra

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