The Republic Day parade this year will have the “largest and grandest” flypast ever with a total of 75 aircraft and helicopters, including seven new Rafale fighters, to mark the ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ celebrations. Both the flypast, which will also include Navy aircraft and Army helicopters, as well as the IAF tableau will also commemorate a few crucial battles of the 1971 war, an IAF spokesperson, Wing Commander Indranil Nandi, said.
While five Rafales will fly in a ‘Vinaash’ formation, the sixth French-origin fighter will part of the ‘Baaz’ formation along with two Jaguars, two MiG-29s and two Sukhoi-30MKI jets, while the seventh will fly solo in ‘Vijay’ formation.
The grand finale of the flypast will see as many as 17 Jaguar fighters flying in the ‘Amrit’ formation. In between, there will be other formations with Dhruv, Mi-17, Chinook and Apache helicopters as well as C-130J Super Hercules, Dakota, Dornier-228 and AEW&C aircraft. Two naval MiG-29K fighters and one P-8I maritime patrol aircraft, in turn, will fly the ‘Varuna’ formation. The indigenous Tejas light combat aircraft will, however, not feature in the flypast.
As for the 1971 war, the IAF tableau will have a scaled-down model of a MiG-21 fighter hitting the Dhaka Government House with rockets on December 14 to force Pakistan’s abject surrender in the 1971 war. It will also have a model of the Gnat fighter, which came to be known as the ‘Sabre Slayer’ during the war for liberation of Bangladesh. In the flypast, a Dakota and two Dornier-228 aircraft will fly in the ‘Tangail’ formation to depict the famous airdrop of a battalion-size unit of paratroopers on December 11 du ring the conflict. Similarly, the ‘helibridge’ formed over the Meghna river, which was critical in capturing Dhaka, will be showcased through the ‘Meghna’ formation flown by a Chinook heavy-lift and four medium lift Mi-17 helicopters.