New Delhi: Newly-inducted stealth attack helicopter ‘Apache’ and transport chopper ‘Chinook’ will take part in the Republic Day flypast for the first time while a model of Rafale fighter jet will be showcased as part of the Indian Air Force’s tableau, officials said Monday.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had participated in the official handover ceremony in France in October last year for the first Rafale combat jet acquired by the IAF.
During the Republic Day parade, the IAF will also showcase its might and glory, with its tableau depicting scaled-down models of five systems recently added to its inventory – Rafale aircraft, indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), surface-to-air guided weapon ‘Aakash’ and ‘Astra’ missiles.
Flt Lt Shrikant Sharma will lead the 144-strong IAF contingent on Rajpath for the second time in a row, while Warrant Officer Ashok Kumar, an accomplished Drum Major, will front the IAF band, the officials said.
“The Republic Day flypast will comprise 41 aircraft of the IAF and four helicopters of the Army’s aviation arm. The aircraft types include 16 fighters, 10 transport aircraft and 19 helicopters. The flypast will be conducted in two phases,” a senior IAF official said Monday.
Leading the ceremonial parade would be the ‘Ensign’ formation comprising four Mi-17 V5 helicopters in an inverted ‘Y’ formation, also referred to as the ‘wineglass formation’,
They will flypast the dais, trooping the national flag and the ensigns of the three services. They will be followed by ‘Dhruv’ formation, comprising four Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) of the Army Aviation.
The ‘Chinook’ formation will comprise three newly-inducted transport helicopters in ‘vic’ formation. Following them will be the ‘Apache’ formation consisting of the latest attack helicopters of the IAF.
The ‘Chinook’, twin-engine, tandem rotor is a multi-role, vertical-lift platform, which is used for transporting troops, artillery, equipment and fuel. The helicopter can carry out military operations not only during the day but also at night too.
Eight US-made Apache stealth attack helicopters were inducted into the IAF in September last year, significantly boosting the force’s firepower capability at a time when India faces complex security challenges, including cross-border terrorism.