Mar 27, 2016

Indian Navy prepares to retire its Sea Harriers

The Indian Navy (IN) has retired its fleet of Sea Harriers. A flight of six single-seat Sea Harrier FRS Mk 51s was officially 'disembarked' from INS Viraat , the IN's 57-year-old, 23,900-tonne Centaur-class aircraft carrier, on 6 March, prior to the Sea Harriers being officially retired from service on 22 March.
The most recent figures available put the IN's Sea Harrier strength at 10 or 11, with two of these two-seat.
IN officials told IHS Jane's that keeping the Sea Harriers operational for an air-defence role and/or training purposes would have been "logistically problematic and hugely expensive".
"Even readying ... six Harriers to participate in the IN's International fleet Review [IFR] in February in Visakhapatnam by cannibalising five other platforms was a major feat," said a senior naval officer. He added that keeping them functioning for longer would be impossible.
The surviving aircraft will probably be mothballed at INS Hansa, the navy's shore-based facility at Dabolim in Goa, before being dispatched to various naval stations around the country to serve as exhibits.
The IN originally acquired a total of 30 Harriers as the air arm of Viraat (ex-HMS Hermes ). But over the years 15 of them crashed, killing eight pilots. The last Harrier fatality occurred in August 2009 in the Arabian Sea off the Goa coast.
In 2008-09 India's state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) partially upgraded the Harriers by replacing their Sea Fox radars with Israeli ELTA EL/M-2032 multimode fire control radars and arming them with Rafael Derby beyond-visual-range air-to-air missiles.

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