Naval aviation on threshold of transformation: Navy chief

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Panaji, May 11 (IANS) Naval aviation is on the “threshold of transformation”, Indian Navy chief Admiral R.K. Dhowan said on Wednesday, adding that a range of aircraft and helicopters were in various phases of being inducted into the navy.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of a naval function in Goa’s INS Hansa naval base, Dhowan also suggested that a date had not been set for the decommissioning of India’s aging warship INS Viraat.

“Naval Aviation is on the threshold of transformation. We have inducted the P-8I aircraft, the Mig 29K aircraft and are now on the threshold of inducting helicopters,” Dhowan said.

The MiG 29K fighter jets were formally inducted into the INAS Squadron 300 at the Goa naval base on Wednesday. The Russia-made fighters replaced the aging fleet of Sea Harriers which were solemnly de-inducted at a formal ceremony attended by Dhowan.

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The Boeing-manufactured P-81 aircraft is a long-range maritime patrol, reconnaissance and anti-submarine aircraft, which has already been inducted into the Indian Navy.

Dhowan said the Indian Navy was looking to upgrade the anti-submarine Kamov choppers and induct more National Utility Helicopters and medium range maritime reconnaissance aircraft soon.

“Today the navy operates over 200 aircraft and helicopters and we are on the threshold to induct new aircraft and multi role helicopters into the Indian Navy. As a maritime nation, we have vast maritime interests and the Indian Navy today has emerged as a multi-dimensional network force which is combat-ready to take on any challenge in the maritime domain in the Indian Ocean region. Naval aviation forms a very important dimension of our concept of operations,” Dhowan said.

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