Nation
INS Viraat embarks on farewell voyage to Kochi
India's magnificent second aircraft carrier, 'INS Viraat', which in its previous avatar led the British task force that retook the Falkland Islands in 1982, lifted anchor on Saturday afternoon for her final voyage from Mumbai to Kochi, powered by her own boilers, prior to her scheduled de-commissioning.
 
The ageing 750-feet long 'giant' - as the name signifies - served the Indian Navy with distinction for almost six decades. It is expected to reach the Southern Naval Command base on Wednesday for the pre-decommissioning preparations, official sources said here.
 
This will entail a spell in a dry dock for dismantling and retrieving valuable and sensitive equipment including the engines, radars, big and small guns and other weaponry.
 
Kicking-off the dismantling process on May 6, her fleet of Sea Harrier aircraft flew off for the last time from her deck and was given a formal farewell at INS Hansa, in Goa two days later.
 
Ranked as the oldest functional, floating aircraft carrier in the world and the last British-built ship serving the Indian Navy, INS Viraat was the star attraction at the International Fleet Review held in Visakhapatnam in February this year.
 
As HMS Hermes, the vessel had served the Royal Navy from 1959 to 1964 and led South Atlantic Task Force on an 8,000 km voyage to free the Falkland Islands from Argentina, which had taken them over. Everyone had said it couldn't be done, but the task force achieved the near impossible, much to the happiness of Iron Lady of Britain, the late Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher.
 
Sailing at 28-knots plus speeds, the ship gave a spectacular performance with aircraft onboard operating round-the-clock, units from the ship shredding many enemy aircraft in the air and neutralizing other challenges on the ground during the 74-days long conflict in which Argentina lost to the UK.
 
After that war, she was kept as a reserve, decommissioned from active service in 1985 and in April 1986, India which was scouting for a second aircraft carrier to replace its ageing INS Vikrant, decided to buy the vessel for Indian Navy.
 
On May 12, 1987 - the ship capable of handling Sea Harrier jump jets with a short take-off and vertical landing (STOVL), other fighter aircraft and all types of helicopters, plus a total crew complement of 1,600 - was commissioned under the White Ensign of the Indian Navy.
 
Built by Vickers Shipbuilding & Engineering Ltd, Barrow-in-Furness, UK, the vessel's keel was laid in 1944 at the height of the World War II. She was launched on February 16, 1953 and formally commissioned into the Royal Navy on November 18, 1959.
 
The vessel displaces 28,500 tonnes and one of her most striking visual features was the 12-degree ramp on the bows which improved safety as well as the radius of operation/payload carrying capacity of the Sea Harrier fighters.
 
She came with a Close in Weapon System for self-defence, Computer Aided Action Information Systems which gave the command a total picture of the tactical scenario based on information fed to the computer from all onboard sensors, enabling quick decision-making and warding off all threats.
 
After the dismantling process in Kochi - which may take around a couple of months - INS Viraat will be towed back to her base in Mumbai, for formal decommissioning, the date of which has not been finalized yet.
 
Moreover, the fate of the decommissioned aircraft carrier is also not clear whether it would be converted into a permanent floating museum, a tourism centre or relegated to a ships' graveyard for breaking down to scrap - a la the first decommissioned aircraft carrier (INS) Vikrant, in 2014.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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No signs of missing IAF plane, Parrikar monitors search op
The search continued on Saturday for the missing AN-32 aircraft of the Indian Air Force that went missing on Friday over the Bay of Bengal and has been untraceable since.
 
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar reached Tambaram in Tamil Nadu on Saturday and went on an aerial survey in an IAF plane over the area where search and rescue operations are going on.
 
There has been no signal pickup or spotting of debris from the missing aircraft yet.
 
The AN-32 transport aircraft with 29 people on board went missing on Friday over the Bay of Bengal off the Chennai coast.
 
"Defence Minister reviewed the situation and utilisation of assets and resources and has directed that if necessary more resources to be diverted to the effort," Defence Ministry officials said.
 
"The Minister was appraised of the difficult conditions under which the operations are being carried out during the last 24 hours. The sea is very choppy and there is thick cloud cover in area," the official said.
 
Parrikar has directed all top officials to be in touch with the families of those who were on board and provide them information that may be required.
 
"The search is going on. If there is any substantial development it will be made known," Wing Commander Anupam Banerjee, Public Relations Officer for IAF told IANS.
 
Only a catastrophic accident in a "no talk/radio zone" or "dead zone" could destroy an aircraft suddenly, an experienced pilot with the Indian defence forces told IANS late Friday.
 
The search and rescue operation by Indian Navy and Coast Guard, which went on through the night, continued on Saturdaay and more assets were deployed.
 
Two P8I surveillance aircrafts and two Dornier are continuing the search while one Dornier is on standby at Port Blair.
 
One AN 32 and two C-130 Hercules aircrafts and Mi-17 V5 with floats are also on standby.
 
At present, 13 ships of the Indian Navy and four ships of Coast Guard are involved in the search operation. 
 
A submarine was also sent for locating transmissions from the emergency locator beacon on board the missing aircraft. Emergency locator beacons usually get activated in case a plane crashes.
 
Those on board the AN-32 included six crew members, 15 personnel from the IAF, army, navy and Coast Guard, and eight civilians who were family members of the personnel.
 
The aircraft, an upgraded AN-32 belonging to 33 Squadron, took off from Tambaram Air Force Station in Chennai at 8.30 a.m., and was expected to land at Port Blair in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands at 11.30 a.m., officials said, describing it as a "routine sortie".
 
According to a report submitted to the Defence Minister by Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, the recorded transcript of Chennai air traffic radar showed last pickup of the aircraft was 151 nautical miles east of Chennai, when the aircraft was observed to have carried out a left turn with rapid loss of height from 23,000 feet.
 
The last contact with the aircraft was established roughly around 15-20 minutes after the take-off, sources said.
 
According to the IAF, the AN-32 is a twin engine turboprop, medium tactical transport aircraft of Russian origin. It can carry a maximum load of around 6.7 tonne or 39 paratroopers.
 
The aircraft's maximum cruise speed is 530 kmph.
 
"Planes are designed to fly even during an emergency. There will be reaction time to the pilots facing an emergency to send out messages for help or turn towards safety," an Indian defence forces pilot told IANS.
 
According to the pilot, an AN-32 aircraft will not drop down like a stone or vanish into thin air in the case of normal emergency, as there will be reaction time.
 
"But in the case of a catastrophic threat, the pilots will not have the necessary reaction time," he said.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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10 including suspect dead in Munich shooting spree
Police in German city of Munich said a total of 10 people have died, including the gunman who opened fire near Olympia-Einkaufszentrum shopping mall in the Moosach district of Munich on Friday evening.
 
Munich police chief Hubertus Andrae told reporters early Saturday that the man who killed nine people and injured several others in a shooting rampage at a mall in the German city of Munich has committed suicide when he encountered police and was likely a lone shooter.
 
"We found a man, who killed him himself. We assume, that he was the only shooter. #gunfire #munich," the police had tweeted earlier.
 
A total of 21 people were injured, he said, including three who were in serious condition.
 
The police chief said that the gunman was 18-year-old Iranian from Munich who had been living in Munich for longer than two years, CNN reported.
 
"Police don't believe the gunman, an 18-year-old German-Iranian, had any accomplices," he noted.
 
The motive for the shootings was unclear, the police president said, adding that 2,300 law enforcement officials responded to the incident, BBC reported. 
 
Police had declared a terror alarm for south Germany after shooting.
 
Munich's main train station was evacuated completely and the city's transport system was suspended. 
 
People had offered space to the stranded people in their own homes on social media, using the hashtag #Offenetuer -- which means "open door" -- for people who are stranded without a way to get home, BBC reported. 
 
Muslim newspaper in Germany, Islamische Zeitung, tweeted that mosques in Munich would stay open overnight for anyone who needs refuge.
 
The Czech Republic's interior minister, Milan Chovanec, had told local television that the country's border was reinforced in case the Munich attacker or attackers tried to flee, German broadcaster NTV reported. 
 
A state of emergency was declared in Munich and special operations are still underway.
 
Reports of shooting at the Marienplatz station in Munich also made rounds in the media.
 
Reports also say a gunman opened fire in Stachus Square, Munich's main square just three miles away from the Munich Olympia centre.
 
Terrified shoppers were seen running for their lives from the Munich Olympia Shopping Centre after hearing gunshots.
 
A video purporting to show the shooter, dressed in black, firing 20 shots has been posted on Twitter. The footage shows him outside a McDonald's directly outside the shopping centre.
 
The area around the Munich Olympia Shopping Centre was sealed off and the police had told people to stay at home and avoid the streets.
 
The anti-terror special unit of the federal police was deployed to the city. Border patrol helicopters were deployed to hunt for the attackers.
 
The authorities had warned of the danger of further attacks.
 
The shopping mall is located next to the Olympic Stadium in the city where 11 Israeli athletes and coaches were murdered by the Black September Palestinian militant group during the Olympic Games in 1972.
 
The President of Germany, Joachim Gauck, said that he was "horrified" by the shooting in Munich.
 
In a statement, Mr Gauck said: "I am with all the victims in my thoughts and all those who are mourning or fearful for loved ones." 
 
He also offered his "solidarity" to people in the emergency services who are working this evening, trying to "protect people and save lives".
 
US President Barack Obama on Friday pledged support to Germany in the wake of the shooting rampage.
 
The US has also issued an advisory for its citizens in Germany asking them to maintain a high level of vigilance and take steps to enhance personal security.
 
President Obama, who was briefed about the attack on the Olympia-Einkaufszentrum shopping mall, said, "We don't yet know exactly what's happening there, but obviously our hearts go out to those who may have been injured. We are going to pledge all the support they may need."
 
Democratic presidential nominee for the US elections Hillary Clinton condemned the shooting.
 
Hillary said that she is "monitoring the horrific situation in Munich".
 
"We stand with our friends in Germany as they work to bring those responsible to justice," she tweeted.
 
The police president also said that two people seen fleeing the scene in a vehicle were initially considered to be suspects. 
 
According to CNN, "On the basis of witness reports and CCTV footage" a man found dead near the scene is considered to be the suspect. Police currently believe nobody else was involved.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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