South India’s first squadron of Sukhoi-30MKI fighter jets was inducted by Chief of Defence Staff Bipin Singh Rawat and Chief Air Marshal RKS Bhadauria on Monday at the Thanjavur Air Force base in Tamil Nadu. These jets have been modified to carry the BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles on them.
According to reports, the fighter jets inducted on Monday will provide India with capabilities to monitor the Indian Ocean region and also fulfil the country’s aerial and maritime roles in the region. The squadron will now have the potential to carry out strikes deep into the Indian Ocean with the BrahMos missiles, which has a range of around 300 kilometres. Eight jets have been added to the 222 Squadron on Monday. The 222 Squadron was decommissioned in 2011 and has been now reactivated by this new addition.
RKS Bhadauria told ANI that the decision to deploy the jets at Thanjavur was a strategic one. “The decision to deploy the Su-30 MKI at Thanjavur was taken due to its strategic location. The SU-30 MKI inducted here is equipped with special weapon (BrahMos supersonic cruise missile)," he told ANI.
The integration of BrahMos with the Sukhoi-30MKI jets was fully done in India by BrahMos Aerospace, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited and the Indian Air Force. The jets were received at Thanjavur with water gun salute.
The 222 squadron which will house the jets is also known as the ‘Tigersharks’ and took part in the 1971 war with Pakistan. It was formed in the year 1969 with Sukhoi Su 7 jets. The squadron was also awarded one Mahavir Chakra, three Vir Chakras and three Vayu Sena medals in recognition for its efforts during the war. Tigersharks was also the first squadron to be equipped with the MiG-27s.