Burning medals by war veterans an insult to nation: Parrikar

Chennai, Nov 13 (IANS) Attempts by war veterans to burn their medals as a protest to the “One Rank, One Pension” (OROP) scheme is an insult to the nation and the armed forces, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said on Friday.

Parrikar was at INS Rajali in Arakonam, around 70 km from here, to dedicate the P8i aircraft to the nation.

The induction of the long-range maritime patrol P8i aircraft will enable the Indian Navy to undertake extensive surveillance and swift action, he stressed.

Parrikar told reporters medals were recognition for the sacrifice made by the armed forces and not connected with the service conditions.

He said those aggrieved by the scheme notified by the government can put their demands before the judicial commission, which has been formed to review the OROP scheme’s shortfalls.

Parrikar flew in to INS Rajali, a premier naval air station, aboard a P8i from Port Blair in the morning.

During the flight, Parrikar was given an exposure to various sensors and other sophisticated state-of-the-art equipment on board and their capabilities.

He said the aircraft would provide the Indian Navy the necessary reach and flexibility to undertake extensive surveillance as also to respond swiftly and effectively to contingencies in the country’s areas of interest.

According to him, even in the short phase of trials and testing, the P8i aircraft had achieved a number of operational milestones which include participation in the search effort for Malaysian Airlines Flight MH 370, the first successful firing of air-launched Harpoon Block II missile in the world, torpedo firing and active participation in major naval exercises.

The defence ministry said the P8i aircraft was a variant of P8A Poseidon aircraft from Boeing as a replacement for the US Navy’s ageing P-3 fleet.

The Indian Navy in 2009 became the first international customer for the aircraft, signing a $2 billion worth contract to acquire eight aircraft.

The last of the eight aircraft was accepted by India last month.

The P8i is equipped for long-range anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in support of broad area, maritime and littoral operations.

The induction of all eight aircraft has reinforced the long-range maritime reconnaissance and air anti-submarine warfare capability of the Indian Navy.

It will also provide enhanced maritime surface and sub-surface surveillance in the entire Indian Ocean Region.

Several dignitaries, including the Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral R.K. Dhowan, and flag officer commanding-in-chief eastern naval command, Vice Admiral Satish Soni, attended the function.

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