The Sea Harrier is an aircraft rapidly vanishing from armed service the world over. The Indian Navy purchased thirty of them back in the early 1980s, but only 11 remain. The decision to retire the type was based on India’s purchase of MiG-29Ks from Russia, which it will use to operate from the country’s aircraft carrier, the INS Viraat. That’s an interesting notion, as the Viraat itself is slated to be retired by the end of the year.

The Indian Navy has retired the Sea Harrier fleet that operated from its aircraft carrier INS Viraat, and plans to replace them 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. The Navy once considered upgrading  the Sea Harriers but abandoned the plan.

The Sea Harrier pilots are now being trained to fly the Russian MiG 29K fighter aircraft. India 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, said an Indian Navy official.

Sea Harrier Retires From Indian Navy
An F/A-18F Super Hornet assigned to the Strike Fighter Squadron 102, left, flies alongside Indian Navy Sea Harriers during exercise Malabar 07-2. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jarod Hodge/RELEASED)

In 2006, the Navy planned to purchase retired Sea Harriers from the Royal British Navy but the Ministry of Defence later abandoned the program.

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

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