New Delhi: India showcased its military hardware and cultural diversity today during the annual Republic Day parade, which saw many firsts as the country’s grandest ceremonial event was curtailed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
A Rafale fighter jet – one of the eight inducted into the Indian Air Force over the last year – took part in the Republic Day celebrations for the first time as it carried out the demanding and spectacular ‘Vertical Charlie’ maneuver alone and was part of the ‘Eklavya’ formation with four other fighter jets.
The Rafale jet along with two Jaguar Deep penetration strike aircraft and two MiG-29 Air Superiority Fighters conducted the ‘Eklavya’ formation at a height of 300 metre and a speed of 780 km/h. The five jets resembled a V shape with Rafale leading the pack.
The Republic Day parade was shorter, involved fewer participants and only a fourth of the usual number of spectators were allowed at Rajpath as the government followed strict social distancing protocols.
The Indian Air Force showcased models of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas and indigenously-developed anti-tank guided missile Dhruvastra on its tableau during the parade.
The Indian Army showcased its main battle tank T-90 Bhishma, infantry combat vehicle BMP-II-Sarath, mobile autonomous launcher of the BrahMos missile system, multi-launcher rocket system Pinaka, electronic warfare system Samvijay among others during the parade.
The Indian Navy, meanwhile, displayed the models of the Indian Naval Ship (INS) Vikrant and naval operations that were conducted during the 1971 India-Pakistan war.
Prime Minister Narendra marked the beginning of the Republic Day celebrations by paying tribute to fallen soldiers at the National War Memorial in the national capital.
Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, Chief of Defence Staff (CDS) General Bipin Rawat, Indian Army chief Gen M.M. Naravane, Indian Navy chief Admiral Karambir Singh and Indian Air Force chief (IAF) Air Chief Marshal R.K.S. Bhadauria were also in attendance.
The parade, which was commanded by parade commander Lieutenant General Vijay Kumar Mishra, with Major General Alok Kacker as the second-in-command, began with President Ram Nath Kovind taking the salute. The national flag was unfurled followed by the national anthem with a booming 21-gun salute.
A total of 32 tableaux—17 of various states and UTs, nine of ministries and six from the defence—have been displayed at Rajpath.