Meet the top guns

Meet the top guns

It is a potent fighter and when it flies past, it leaves the skies stunned. Sukhoi MKI 30s — the multirole combat fighter — with its super manoeuvrable capacities has been a delight for spectators at any aero show. At the ‘Aero India 2017’, these birds and their commanders once again showcased their prowess leaving not only admirers but also a trail of pride behind.

Wing commanders CUV Rao and Deepak Kumar, who flew a Sukhoi MKI30 at the ‘Aero India’ this time around, are blatantly proud of the winged wonders. And after they completed their sortie, they spoke at length on why they love flying it, about the controls behind the glass cockpit and why youngsters should aim for the skies. 

“This is the second time that I am participating in ‘Aero India’. I have been a part of it in 2015 as well. It has been an amazing experience. The skies were clear and perfect for the aerobatics ,” Wing Commander Rao, who has been flying for 20 years now, recalls.
“The advantages of Su-30 are its manoeuvrability and that is something unique to it — like the yaw turns and the tail slides or the ‘cobra’ manoeuvres. The aircraft is capable of doing a spot turn. It helps in close combat as we are able to change the direction and get behind the enemy.”

Fitted with ‘BrahMos’ and the Nirbhay cruise missiles, the aircraft has been adding feathers to the Indian Air Force’s striking capabilities. With all this in place, ask Rao to pick out his favourite feature of the plane and he says, “What I like best about it is its manoeuvring capabilites. The aircraft can fly at all speeds, including slow speed and slow speed is usually difficult. In aerial combat, the aircraft is capable of carrying BVR missiles. Its radar and missile package is excellent. Moreover, the aircraft has also participated in international exercises against Western aircraft.”

Regarding the comfort level he shares with his teammate on board, he says, “the synergy we have is great. Both of us have clearcut duties and we perform that.”
His teammate wing commander Deepak Kumar is equally delighted, if not more, to be part of this year’s show. “This is the first time that I am performing at ‘Aero India’. We have been training for this since October in Jodhpur and we have been here in Bengaluru since January first week . This has been really exciting,” he says.

But Deepak did not always nurse the dream of flying a Sukhoi. “I never wanted to be a Su-30 pilot,” he admits. “I always wanted to be in a single-cockpit aircraft. But it so happened that this was what was assigned to me and I was disheartened at that time. But now, I love flying this. It has all the capabilites and any manoeuvre can be done on this. It has far better capabilites than many aircraft. Moreover, flying Su-30 has offered me tremendous exposure and I’m happy,” he says.

Could he spell out his other interests? “I just fly. And whenever I have the time, I play basketball and cricket. I also spend time with my wife,” he laughs.   

The ‘Aero India’ has been seeing youngsters expressing their desire to be pilots, especially to fly Su-30. Mention this to Deepak, and he says. “For this generation, this is the perfect aircraft to fly.”

Rao too has some suggestions for the young, especially those motivated. “Young people should join the IAF. It is a great career and a great service.  Su-30 is a dream machine and great to fly. What you need is dedication and focus,” he avers.

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