Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Wednesday undertook a sortie in the Indian Air Force (IAF) frontline combat jet, Sukhoi 30 MKI, from the Jodhpur airbase in Rajasthan. According to news agency PTI, the defence minister did so to review operational preparedness and combat capabilities. The twin-engine Russian-made fighter jet has a two-seat cockpit and is a nuclear-capable aircraft.
“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 (defence personnel) have to respond to situations. It was eye-opening and memorable,” Sitharaman said, reported ANI. The country’s first full-time defence minister, she wore a G-suit and sat behind the pilot during the flight. The sortie lasted 30 minutes.
Earlier, in 2009, former President Pratibha Patil entered the world record for being the first woman head of state to fly the Sukhoi-30 MKI. At the time, Patil was 74 which also made her the oldest to fly the warplane. She had flashed a victory sign on landing.
(With inputs from PTI)