On 26 January, India celebrated the 75th Republic Day with the theme ‘Developed India’ and ‘India-Mother of Democracy’ and on this occasion, for the first time, a parade was launched by 100 women artistes with Indian musical instruments, which was started by women artistes. It was accompanied by the music of conch shells, nadaswaram, nagara etc. On this occasion of national pride, the whole world also saw India’s ever-growing indigenous military strength in the Republic Day Parade held on the duty path. During the parade, attractive tableaux of various states, ministries and organizations were brought out to showcase the culture and traditions of the country, along with the soldiers of the three services also displayed unique feats to show the strength of India to the whole world.
Marching contingents of the Army, tanks, cannons and bands also took part in the Republic Day Parade on the Kartavi Path and a flypast of the Air Force also took place. The bravery of Indian fighter planes was also seen during the flypast of many aircraft. In the flypast, along with Indian Air Force aircraft, a Multi Role Tanker Transport (MRTT) aircraft of the French Air Force and two Rafale aircraft also showed their stunts along with the Indian aircraft. Weapon systems also included tanks, BMP-2 infantry fighting vehicles, drone jammers, medium-range surface-to-air missile launchers and multi-function radars. A total of 56 military aircraft, including 29 fighter jets, some of which were operated by women pilots, participated in the flypast. 15 women pilots including 6 fighter pilots took part in the flypast. A 95-member marching squad and 33-member band of the French Army also participated in the parade.
Usually, only foreign weapons were included in the Republic Day parade, but this time the world saw a large number of indigenous weapons like Indian-made tanks, missiles, attack helicopters etc. Various weapons like LCH (Light Combat Helicopter) Prachanda helicopter in the sky, T-90 Bhishma tank on the ground, Pinaka multi-barrel rocket launcher for missile launching, Nag anti-tank missile etc. became part of the parade. LCH Prachanda is the first indigenous multi-role combat helicopter designed and manufactured by HAL equipped with powerful ground attack and air combat capability, modern stealth features, strong armor protection and tremendous night strike capability. The advanced navigation systems, close combat-ready guns and powerful air-to-air missiles on board LCH Prachanda make it uniquely suited for the modern battlefield. Light combat helicopters are used where fighter jets are not required. The Indian-made LCH is the world’s single best helicopter in its category, which can land and take off from high altitude areas. There is no such helicopter in the world yet, which can fly at such a height. Along with the LCH, the Indian Army also showcased a weaponized version of the ALH Dhruv helicopter, also known as Rudra.
Weapon systems displayed at the parade included DRDO-developed Pinaka and Swati radars, which have also been exported by Indian entities to foreign customers. The advanced range version of the Pinaka rocket system can destroy targets at ranges up to 45 kilometres. This rocket system has been jointly developed by Pune-based Armament Research and Development Establishment and High Energy Materials Research Laboratory. The speed of Pinaka rocket makes it the most dangerous, which is 5757.7 kilometers per hour. It is named after ‘Pinak’, the bow of Lord Shiva. Pinaka rocket system fires 12 rockets in 44 seconds. It currently has two major variants and the third one is under development. The range of the first variant is 45 kilometers and the second is 90 kilometers, while the range of the third under-construction variant will be 120 kilometers. ‘Swati’ Weapon Locating Radar is an indigenously designed WLR, which is capable of detecting guns, mortars and rockets firing at its troops. It enables the troops to carry out their operational tasks without enemy interference and also provides them protection from enemy fire.
The ‘Nag’ missile, which formed an important part of the parade, has been developed by DRDO to deal with highly fortified enemy tanks in day and night conditions. The Indian-made ‘Dhruvastra’ anti-tank guided missile is also called ‘Helina’, which was earlier named ‘Nag’ missile. It is a third generation ‘fire and forget’ anti-tank missile, which can be deployed on helicopter, tank, BMP or any armored vehicle and by adding 8 kg of explosive to it, it can be made an excellent anti-tank missile. T-90 tank is the main battle tank of Russia, which India has changed its name to ‘Bhishma’ according to its needs. Capable of moving at a speed of 60 kilometers per hour, this tank has a 125 mm smoothbore gun and 43 shells can be stored on the tank. Its operational range is 550 kilometers. The Russian version of this tank is being used in many countries. Currently, 2078 T-90 tanks are in service and under India’s deal with Russia, Russia will deploy 1657 Bhishmas on duty by 2025. The Republic Day parade also saw the participation of Quick Fighting Reaction Vehicles, All Terrain Vehicles and Specialist Mobility Vehicles, which are used for transportation of troops in desert, mountainous and snowy areas. Apart from this, they can also be easily airlifted from one place to another. Their suspension is their specialty, which makes them capable of working at 60 degrees elevation and 45 degrees depression.
After 20 years, a 149-member contingent of ‘Bombay Sappers’, who are experts in laying landmines for the enemy on the duty path and removing them to pave the way for their soldiers, also took part in the Republic Day Parade. The parade also showcased the growing role of women in the defense forces. 60 women soldiers became part of the all-women marching contingent of the Tri-Services, which also included women from the Air Force and Navy. Vayu Agniveer, who passed out from Airman Training School, Belagavi, Karnataka just two months ago, also became a part of the parade. The tri-service marching contingent of Agniveers included 144 women. Overall, India’s military might as well as the cultural glimpse of the country was visible on the duty path during the parade at the Republic Day celebrations.
– Yogesh Kumar Goyal
(The author is a senior journalist and strategic affairs analyst)