Panaji, May 11: The Indian Navy on Wednesday 'de-inducted' its ageing Sea Harriers, replacing them with MiG 29K fighter aircraft.
Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral R K Dhowan was the chief guest of the ceremony held at Goa's INS Hansa base in Vasco to bid adieu to Sea Harriers after their 33 years of service to the nation.
The Sea Harriers displayed a vertical landing formation at INS Hansa during the 'de-induction' event today.
"It's a distinct honour and proud privilege to induct multi-role supersonic MiG 29K in the 300 squadron. It marks the induction of multi-role supersonic technology in Indian Navy," Admiral Dhowan said addressing the gathering.
He hailed all the pilots who flew Sea Harriers, which was considered as one of the most difficult aircraft to fly.
"Today is also the day to salute the pilots who flew Sea Harrier aircraft which made a mark for itself by protecting our seas," he added.
Sea Harriers were inducted in the Indian Navy following phasing out of then obsolete Seahawks.
In September 1980, the Sea Harrier Project (SHARP) was formed with select naval aviators and technical personnel for coordination of trials, testing, acceptance and training.
The first newly-built Sea Harrier for the Indian Navy (IN 601) was ready on December 21, 1982, the Navy said in a statement issued here.
The first three Sea Harriers flying via Malta, Luxor and Dubai, led by Lt Cdr Arun Prakash VrC, landed at Dabolim on December 16, 1983. This was followed by the first deck landing on the carrier, INS Vikrant, on December 20, 1983, and the arrival of the first Sea Harrier T Mk 60 trainer, on March 29, 1984.
"In last few years, the Harriers added a new dimension to their operations with the increased multinational exercises in which the Indian Navy participates," the statement added.