Chennai/New Delhi: India will celebrate its 66th Republic Day tomorrow, showcasing before the chief guest US President Barack Obama and the world its military might and cultural diversity with a splendid display of land and naval weaponry, fighter and reconnaissance aircraft.
With "Women's Empowerment" being the theme of this year's Republic Day parade, the main attraction of the annual extravaganza would be marching contingents of all-women officers of the three Services.
Defence sources say the thought of having an all-women contingent came from Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself as he wanted the Services to focus on "Nari Shakti".
Tableaux from 16 States and nine central ministries and departments will present the varied historical, architectural and cultural heritage of the country. The theme of most of the tableaux this year will have imprints of the Prime Minister's pet projects like 'Jan Dhan Yojna', 'Maa Ganga', 'Swachh Bharat Abhiyan', bullet train and the 'Make in India' drive.
Another attraction would be the display of Army version of indigenously developed surface-to-air Akash medium range missile and Weapon Locating Radar, both by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). For the first time, India will display its recently acquired long-range maritime surveillance and anti-submarine P-8I aircraft and the long-range advanced MiG-29K fighter plane. Indian Army's laser-guided missile capable T-90 Bheeshma tank, infantry combat vehicle BMP-II (Sarath) followed by T-72 with Trawl will be the main draw in the mechanised columns. These will be followed by 'Pinaka' multiple barrel launcher system. The Mobile Autonomous Launcher of BRAHMOS missile system, three dimensional tactical control radar, satellite on the move communication platform and rapidly deployable satellite terminal (RADSAT) would come next.
An Indian Air Force tableau with the theme "50 years of 1965 War" will follow them at the majestic Rajpath. The IAF has proudly put on display aircraft which have proved their prowess in the 1965 Indo-Pak war -- the Gnat, the Vampire, followed by the Canberra bomber, MI-4 helicopter and Packet transport aircraft.
In keeping with the Indian Navy's theme "Ensuring Safe Seas for a Resurgent Nation" – the Naval Tableau will display a few of its frontline assets in all four dimensions of maritime warfare. Navy's march to self-reliance and indigenisation will be showcased by the models of indigenously constructed destroyer INS Kolkata launching a BrahMos missile with the Advanced Light Helicopter "Dhruv" in the background.
The second tableau, titled "Bharatiya Nau Sena aur Nari Shakti", will show the four Indian Navy women officers who braved vagaries of the seas and participated in an ocean voyage from Goa to Rio-de-Janeiro in Brazil on board Indian Naval Sailing Vessel 'Mhadei'.
The Republic Day parade ceremony will commence at Amar Jawan Jyoti at India Gate where Modi will lead the nation in paying homage to the martyrs by laying a wreath. As per tradition, after unfurling of the Tricolour, the National Anthem will be played with 21-gun salute. The parade will then commence and President Pranab Mukherjee will take the salute. The parade would begin with showering of petals by IAF helicopters, which will also display the tricolour and flags of Army, Navy, and Air Force. Also, 20 young brave hearts who won the national bravery awards will drive through the Rajpath in gypsies.
A total of 13 Army bands, one band each of Air Force and Navy, eight band of paramilitary forces including Camel-mounted band of BSF and one band each of NCC boys and girls would play martial music for the parade.
One of the most breathtaking event would be the manoeuvres by air force jets and daredevil motorcycle performance 'Jaanbaaz' by BSF personnel. Incidentally, the paramilitary force is celebrating its golden jubilee. The rider would perform Border Men Salute, Side Riding, Ladder Balancing, Communal Harmony, Peacock Riding, Acrobat, Parallel Bar, Lotus, Seema Prahari and Flag March formations among others on moving motorcycles.
The grand finale of the parade would be a spectacular flypast by the IAF jets and aircraft. The flypast will commence with 'Chakra' formation, comprising three Mi-35 helicopters in 'Vic' formation, followed by the 'Hercules' formation comprising three C-130J super Hercules aircraft. Trailing them will be a 'Poseidon' formation comprising one P-8I aircraft flanked by two MiG-29Ks and the 'Globe' formation comprising one C-17 Globemaster flanked by two Su-30s.
Next five Jaguars will fly in Arrowhead formation and the five MiG-29 fighters, called the 'Tridents', will fly in 'Fulcrum' style. Three Sukhoi (Su-30 MkI) fighter jets will then make the "Trishul" formation by flying over the Rajpath, and once in front of the saluting dais, the three aircraft would split upwards, making a 'Trishul' in the sky. The flypast will conclude with another Su-30 MkI carrying out a "Vertical Charlie" manoeuvre over the saluting dais....