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George Fernandes dons flying suit
June 22, 2003 16:48 IST
Defence Minister George Fernandes, who has refused to don formal suits even at his meeting with foreign heads of state, on Sunday shed his favourite Kurta Pyjama and wore the anti-gravity suit to undertake a historic fighter sortie in a SU-30 MKI from Lohegaon Air Force Station near Pune.
After undergoing mandatory medical test, Fernandes climbed the aircraft at 0815 hours IST. The twinseater fighter aircraft was flown by Wing Commander Nirmal Singh Jamwal.
As any fighter pilot, Fernandes received his pre-flight meals and then changed over to the G-suit for flying. The defence minister was on board the frontline fighter aircraft for at least 40 minutes, IAF officials said.
The SU 30 MK I was inducted into the Indian Air Force in September last.
After flying the aircraft, Fernandes said India has no reason to worry irrespective of whether United States goes ahead with its plan to sell 'offensive' aircraft such as F-16.
"Firstly, the US has denied the report that they are intending to sell F-16s to Pakistan. This has been denied by US as a 'false story'," Fernandes said. "Secondly, even if we assume that they are going to sell it, we need not have any reason to worry about it as we have our own best aircraft."
Replying to a question on the growing number of accidents of MIG aircraft, Fernandes said, "On the contrary the rate of accidents have come down."
"From the time the MiGs were inducted in the IAF, there has been accidents, but it is only now that they are being more noticed by the media," he said.
He was critical of the media for dubbing the MiGs 'flying coffins' and said it is a great injustice to the pilots who are flying these aircraft.