In some ways, the 68th Republic Day parade was unique.
As the celebrations unfolded at Rajpath, here are some interesting debutants at the parade:
India’s elite counter-terrorism force, the National Security Guard (NSG), on Thursday made its debut at the Republic Day parade. A contingent of some 60 commandos in their black overalls and full armed gear marched on the Rajpath, giving ceremonial salute to President Pranab Mukherjee. The other commandos were on seven vehicles with hydraulic ladders mounted on them.
NSG’s anti-hijacking van ‘Sherpa’ — a bullet proof armoured vehicle that can withstand powerful explosions and can be driven under water and on steep inclines — also made its debut in the parade.
India’s indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft Tejas made its maiden appearance at the Republic Day parade. Despite overcast conditions, three fighter jets flew at a height of 300 metres from ground at a speed of 780 km per hour in ‘VIC’ formation, leaving the spectators at Rajpath boulevard in awe. The LCA was earlier flown at the Indian Air Force Day last year. It was also flown at the IAF’s fire power demonstration Iron Fist, Aero India, and the Bahrain International Airshow.
Developed by the Aeronautical Development Agency, and produced by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, Tejas, as a fourth generation aircraft, can fly at 1,350 km per hour and is comparable to the world’s best fighters, including French Mirage 2000, American F-16 and Swedish Gripen.
Another aircraft making its debut the parade was the Airborne Early Warning and Control System. The AEW&C is an ‘Eye in the Sky’. It is a force multiplier, developed by DRDO for IAF with Centre for Air Borne Systems as nodal agency.
AEW&C system consists of multiple sensors for Surveillance and Signal Intelligence. It helps in Air Defence operations and is capable of communicating using VHF, UHF, C-Band and SATCOM links for Network Centric Operations. Induction of AEW&C into services will make the country self-reliant and position India in top five countries having this capability.