NEW DELHI — The Indian Navy has retired the Sea Harrier fleet that operated from its aircraft carrier INS Viraat, and plans to replace them with . The Sea Harriers are to be replaced with MiG- 29Ks that India has bought from Russia.

The Indian Navy bought 30 British-made Sea Harriers in 1983 but only 11 now remain. Sea Harriers were left due to old age and lack of spares. The Indian Navy once considered had mooted upgrading of the Sea Harriers some years ago but abandoned the plan. was finally abandoned.

The pilots of the Sea Harrier pilots are now being trained to fly the Russian MiG 29K fighter aircraft. India The Indian Navy had planned to replace the Sea Harriers with the homemade Light Combat Aircraft (Naval) version but the program is more than 15 years behind schedule, by over 15 years, said an Indian Navy official.

State-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. conducted a limited upgrade to the imited (HAL) made a limited upgradation of Sea Harriers in 2009 but acquisition of there has always been problems of spares has become a problem because BAE Systems as British Aerospace has stopped manufacturing the aircraft. The limited upgrade included mounting of Israeli Elta-made multimode fire control radars and Derby beyond-visual-range air-to-air missiles.

In 2006, the  Indian Navy planned to purchase retired Sea Harriers from the Royal British Navy but the Ministry of Defence program was later abandoned the program. by the Ministry of Defense (MoD).

The retired 11 numbers of Sea Harriers have are now been mothballed at the Indian Navy's Air Station in Goa before being distributed as museum pieces, the Indian Navy official said.

Even the aircraft carrier INS Viraat, which housed the Sea Harriers, is proposed to be retired by year end. The carrier, which was originally the Royal Navy's HMS Hermes, was bought from the Royal Navy in 1986. Since then a number of refits have been carried out on the vessel.


Vivek Raghuvanshi is the India correspondent for Defense News.

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