New Delhi, Sep 10

Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman on Sunday made her maiden visit to the forward Uttarlai IAF base in western Rajasthan after taking charge of the portfolio.

The Minister was received by IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa, senior Air Staff Officer of Southern Western Air Command Air Marshal D.S. Rawat and Air Officer Commanding of the Air Force Station Air Commodore Sanjay Sharma at the Indian Air Force base in Barmer district bordering Pakistan.

The Minister was presented a Guard of Honour by the Air Warriors on her arrival at the base.

She was also briefed on the air base's role and nature of air operations undertaken from there.

A glimpse of strike operations undertaken by fighter jets was showcased for the benefit of the visiting Minister at the Air Traffic Control Centre.

Talking to reporters later, Sitharaman said that meeting the demands of the armed forces to maintain an optimum state of readiness and preparedness on all fronts would be her priority.

An official statement later said Sitharaman's visit to Uttarlai air base was the first one by a Defence Minister after December 2001.

Earlier in the day, Sitharaman flagged off sailing boat INSV Tarini carrying Indian Navy's all-women crew in Goa. The vessel, with its crew of six women, will circumnavigate the globe in around eight months.

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