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Prez Kalam's Date With Sukhoi Tomorrow

Written by: Staff

New Delhi, June 7 (UNI) President A P J Abdul Kalam has a date to keep tomorrow -- as the first Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces to fly in a fighter aircraft.

India's Missileman will tomorrow fly a sortie in the country's latest all-weather air dominance supersonic fighter aircraft Sukhoi-30MKI from Pune's Lohegaon Air Force Station -- utilising the opportunity to familiarise himself with the systems and capability of the Russian-built aircraft.

Dr Kalam created history in February earlier this year by becoming the country's first President to undertake an undersea journey in a submarine. The intrepid President spent around three- and-half hours on board the INS Sindhurakshak, a Russian-origin kilo-class submarine, off the Visakhapatnam coast.

Tomorrow, President Kalam is set to further create history when he undertakes a 30-minute sortie in the frontline fighter aircraft jockeyed by Commanding Officer of the IAF's Number 20 'Lightnings' squadron Wing Commander Ajay Rathore -- a veteran of all Russian MiG fighters that the IAF possesses as well as the Sukhoi which his fifty-year-old squadron now flies.

The sortie profile includes going supersonic and crossing the speed barrier. The President will also be shown the capabilities of the Sukhoi-30MKI in flight.

A fortnight back, Aviation Medicine experts of the Indian Air Force, after giving the 76-year-old President a thorough medical checkup, had declared him ''mentally and physically fit'' for the various rigours he might face during the half-hour sortie.

On his arrival at the airbase tomorrow morning, he will be received by Vice-Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal Ajit Bhavnani and Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief South Western Air Command Air Marshal PK Mehra.

Air Warriors of the IAF's premier Lohegaon airbase will present a ceremonial 'Guard of Honour' to Dr Kalam. The historic flight in a two-seater trainer version of the SU-30MKI will be preceded by the necessary pre-flight briefing, an official spokesman said here.

Later, an airshow displaying the prowess of the IAF, including formation flying, mid-air buddy-refueling, mock interception (aerial dog fight), saturation strike and low-level aerobatics by a single Sukhoi-30MKI will also be demonstrated to the President.

He will later address the IAF personnel and interact with them before proceeding to the Defence Institute of Armament Technology. After that, he is scheduled to attend a function at the Society for the Physically Handicapped at Wanavdi.

Dr Kalam is scheduled to return to New Delhi tomorrow evening.


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