India proudly flaunts its military prowess on R-day

India proudly flaunts its military prowess on 71st Republic Day

The home-grown ASAT (anti satellite ballistic missile), used last year to kill a satellite parked at a 300 km orbit, was the central showpiece of the grand Republic Day parade on the central boulevard

Indian Navy soldiers march along Rajpath during the Republic Day parade in New Delhi on January 26, 2020. (AFP Photo)

India on Sunday proudly displayed to the world its ability to strike at a satellite and several other lethal weapons from its armoury besides showcasing a rich tapestry of its cultural diversity celebrating the 71st year of the republic.

The home-grown ASAT (anti satellite ballistic missile), used last year to kill a satellite parked at a 300 km orbit, was the central showpiece of the grand Republic Day parade on the central boulevard.

The chief guest, controversial Brazilian President Jair Messias Bolsonaro enjoyed the 90 minutes show along with the President Ram Nath Kovind and Prime Minister Narendra Modi.

Some of the India’s military might such as Apache and Chinook helicopters, Dhanush and K9 Vajra artillery guns, Rudra gunship, Dhruv advanced light weight helicopters, MiG-29, Jaguar and Su-30 fighter aircraft and models of Kolkata-class destroyer, Kalvari-class submarine and under construction aircraft carrier Vikrant bore testimony to India’s ability to pack enough power in its punch when the need arises.

For the first time, the Corps of Army Air Defence, raised in the 1940 as No. 1 Technical Training Battery participated in the parade. The gunners received the Presidential colours last September for their distinguished service.

Other firsts in this year’s parade are tri-service formation flying by three Dhruv ALH, daredevil stunts on motorbikes by an all women team from the Central Reserve Police Force and a tableau from National Disaster Response Force.

After four years, Indian Army’s parachute regiment including the Special Forces returns to the Rajpath in their trademark maroon berets. More than four years ago, men from a similar unit launched the surgical strike on terror camps on Pakistan soil in the Uri sector of Jammu and Kashmir.

Other participants in the marching contingent from the Army were from the Grenadiers, Sikh Light Infantry, Kumaon Regiment and the Corps of Signals. There were eight mechanised columns as well.

Capt. Tania Sher Gill, a fourth generation Army officer, from the Corps of Signals led the all men contingent, continuing the trend set by Capt Bhavna Kasturi from the Army Service Corps, who in 2019 was the first woman officer to lead an all male contingent in the Republic Day parade.

The CRPF team led by Inspector Seema Nag, who saluted the President while standing atop a moving motorcycle, enthralled the spectators on both sides of the 12 km road between President House and Lal Quila by their daring stunts on moving bikes like the human pyramid on multiple motorcycles.

Other women leaders include Maj Sheena Nayar from 21 Signals Group who commanded the transportable satellite terminal, Group Captain Deepti Singh who was at the cockpit of the lead C-17 aircraft in the Globemaster formation and  Senior Under-Officer Shreeshma Hegde from NCC Directorate, Karnataka & Goa who led the NCC girls contingent.

The parade began with Prime Minister Modi paying tributes to the fallen soldiers at the National War Memorial for the first time instead of the traditional Amar Jawan Jyoti.

As always, the first contingent in the uniform of the erstwhile Gwalior Lancers was 61 Cavalry.  The only active serving horse cavalry regiment in the world, the 61 Cavalry was raised on August 1, 1953 with the amalgamation of six state forces’ cavalry units.

Sixteen tableaux from the state governments and central ministries represented the country’s geographical and rich cultural diversity and its legacy. One of them is from Kolkata Port Trust that recently celebrated 150 years of existence.

But the maximum cheer was reserved for the fly past at the end. It began with the Trishul formation by three ALH helicopters, which is the first tri-service formation” in the Republic Day parade. This comes weeks after Gen Bipin Rawat took over as India’s first Chief of Defence Staff for integrating the three services.

The Trishul was followed by the Vic formation of Chinook helicopters, used for airlifting diverse loads to remote locations. Apache helicopters, Dornier, C-130J Super Hercules, Netra, an Airborne Early Warning and Control System and a formation comprising three C-17 Globemasters followed subsequently.

The breathtaking formation flying by the combat aircraft began with five Jaguar deep penetration strike aircraft followed by five MiG-29 upgrade air superiority fighters in Arrowhead and three Su-30 MKI in Trishul formation. The parade culminates with a Su-30 MKI splitting the sky with a Vertical Charlie aerobatic manoeuvre.