“You could take off and land at any speed from zero to 160 knots,” Arun Prakash, former chief of Indian Navy, wrote on May 09. “While others ‘landed and then stopped’, Harrier pilots had the luxury of ‘first stopping and then landing’!”

The Indian Navy had initially purchased 30 Sea Harriers and assigned its best pilots to the aircraft. Yet, over the past three decades, some 15 Sea Harriers have crashed, killing eight pilots. The last such incident took place in the Arabian Sea in 2009, killing the pilot.

The decision to phase out Sea Harriers is also largely due to the huge maintenance cost. The British Royal Navy had phased out Sea Harriers after British Aerospace stopped production in 1998.

India’s Sea Harriers—which are likely to be rested at museums across the country—will be replaced by the much younger and sophisticated Russian Mig 29K jets.

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