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India to display military might at Republic Day

Thursday, 22 January 2004, 00:00 Hrs
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NEW DELHI: Missiles like the long-range, nuclear-capable Agni-II and sophisticated weapon systems like T-90 tanks and Il-78 air-to-air refuelling aircraft will be among the attractions at this year's Republic Day parade.

The parade, held every January 26 to mark India's emergence as a republic in 1950, will also feature the BrahMos, a missile jointly developed by India and Russia, the home-grown Windy 505 fast attack vehicle and a flypast by the indigenously developed advanced light helicopter.

"The whole parade is a highlight as it showcases the might of the armed forces and India's cultural heritage," said Maj. Gen. Thomas Mathew, the general-officer-commanding Delhi area, who will lead this year's parade.

For Mathew, the event will be particularly nostalgic because he will be leading the parade exactly 40 years after he participated in it as a young member of the National Cadet Corps.

President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam, the supreme commander of the armed forces, will take the salute and his Brazilian counterpart, Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva, will be the chief guest.

Kalam will also give away posthumous gallantry awards to the kin of two soldiers - paratrooper Sanjog Chhetri and Lt. Triveni Singh - who died in counter-insurgency operations in Jammu and Kashmir.

This year's parade will feature several firsts, including the fielding of two mounted marching contingents and a tableau by the Indian Army.

Besides the contingent from the 61 Cavalry, the world's only mounted regiment, there will also be a mounted contingent from the Army Service Corps.

Besides the 29 tableaux sent by states across the country, the Indian Army would provide a tableau commemorating last year's successful joint expedition to Mt Everest by the armies of India and Nepal.

The BrahMos supersonic cruise missile, which derives its name from the Brahmaputra and Moscow rivers, will be shown off for the first time at the parade.

"The parade presents a major security challenge. Delhi Police will lead the security drill and it will be backed up by agencies like the National Security Guard and the bomb disposal squads," said Mathew.

Indian Air Force (IAF) helicopters will mount vigil in the skies over Delhi while the parade makes its way down Raj Path to the Red Fort, and anti-aircraft guns will be deployed at strategic sites to guard against aerial threats.

Preparations for the parade began in mid-December when troops and equipment were brought in from across the country to New Delhi, Mathew said.

The army contingents taking part in the Republic Day parade also participated in the Army Day parade on January 15.

Over 3,500 armed forces personnel will be among the marching contingents and there will be a display by a motorcycle team of the Border Security Force.

The parade will be capped by a flypast by IAF aircraft, including Mi-17, Mi-26 and Mi-35 helicopters, An-32 and Il-76 transport aircraft, Su-30, MiG-29 and Jaguar fighters and an Il-78 flight refuelling aircraft that will demonstrate the technique of air-to-air refuelling with a pair of Su-30s.

The IAF will also feature a new manoeuvre, named the Prince of Wales, in the aerobatic display by the Su-30s.




Source: IANS
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