National Defence Bureau,
New Delhi, 18 January 2019
This year’s flypast on 26th January will comprise of 33 aircraft of the Indian Air Force and four helicopters of the Indian Army’s aviation arm. In a first, a new formation of ‘Sutlej’, comprising three An-32 aircraft with lead aircraft using Biojet Fuel blend will be flown. Over years Sukhoi-30MKI enthralled you on Republic Day and you will be surprised, this year’s IAF marching contingent of 144 men and women is being led by a Sukhoi Fighter Pilot, Flt Lt Shrikant Sharma. The theme of Indian Air Force Tableau 2019 is ‘Indian Air Force: Safeguarding Indian skies’.
The aircraft types include 18 fighters, eight transport aircraft and 11 helicopters. The flypast will be conducted in two phases. Leading the parade would be the ‘Ensign’ formation comprising four Mi-17 V5 helicopters in an inverted ‘Y’ formation also referred to as the “Wineglass formation”. They will fly past, trooping the National flag and the ensigns of the three services. They will be followed by ‘Dhruv’ formation comprising four Advanced Light Helicopters of the Army Aviation including two armed ALH- Rudra. The second and the main phase will commence after the end of the surface parade immediately after the Dare Devil display.
This will be led by ‘Rudra’ formation of three ALH Mk IV WSI helicopters of IAF in ‘vic’ formation, followed by three C-130J Super Hercules ac in ‘vic’ formation. Thereafter, a new formation of ‘Sutlej’, comprising of three An-32 ac with lead aircraft using Biojet Fuel blend will be flown followed by mixed formation comprising a single AEW&C flanked by two Su-30s called ‘Netra’. Thereafter, another mixed formation of C-17 Globemaster flanked by two Su-30s in vic formation called Globe formation will fly past the dias.
This will be followed by pure fighter formations. The first fighter formation is Jaguar formation consisting of five Jaguar aircraft in arrowhead formation. This is followed by five Mig-29 Upgrade ac in similar formation, with callsign ‘Fulcrum’. Subsequently, ‘Sukhoi’ formation comprising three SU-30 MKI aircraft, will execute the famousTrishul manoeuvre. In this, the lead Su-30 would execute a vertical manoeuver on reaching in front of the dais while the flanking ac would split outwards forming a Trident. The end of the parade will be marked by a single SU-30 MKI ac of the IAF, carrying out the signature ‘Vertical Charlie’ in front of the dais. All aircraft will fly-in from the Rashtrapati Bhawan side and exit towards the India Gate at heights between 60 metres to 300 metres above ground level.
India’s quest to seek alternate sources of fuel towards reducing its dependence on crude oil will now be showcased by the next formation of An 32 aircraft flying in ‘vic’ formation. The lead aircraft of the formation, piloted by Sqn Ldr Mehtab Sond of the Aircraft Systems Testing Establishment, is flying utilizing Aviation Turbine Fuel blended with 10% BioFuel. This BioFuel has been extracted from Jatropha plant seeds using a technology patented by Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and Indian Institute of Petroleum, Dehradun. The successful trials will lead to significant reduction on India’s dependency on imported crude oil. IAF’s initiative is on line with the Prime Minister’s vision to reduce crude oil imports and dependency to the tune of 10% by 2021. The other two ac are captained by Sqn Ldr Gautam Bajaj and Wg Cdr Arun Chandan.
The Republic Day Celebrations commence with the Homage Ceremony at Amar Jawan Jyoti, where the Prime Minister leads the nation in paying homage to the martyrs. An Inter Services Guard comprising of 01 officer and 50 ORs from each service will form the Outer Guards. Inter Services Inner Guards will be formed by 7 ORs from each service. This year, the guards will be commanded by a Naval officer of the rank of Commander. The contingent commander for the IAF Flt Lt Mudit Lodha will be Main and Flt Lt Rishabh Sharma will be S/By. When the Prime Minister lays the wreath, the Inter-services guards will do ‘Salami Shastra’ followed by ‘Shok Shastra’. Simultaneously, the buglers will sound the ‘Last Post’. Thereafter ‘two minutes silence’ is observed, after which the buglers sound ‘Rouse’ and guards do ‘Salami Sashtra’ again. The Prime Minister will then endorse his remarks in the Visitor’s Book of AJJ.
Flag Hoisting Ceremony The President will unfurl the National Flag at Rajpath. He will be assisted by a Naval Officer. Here, National Anthem will be played and 21 Gun Salute will be presented.
The Republic Day Parade starts after the flag hoisting ceremony at Rajpath. The Parade will be commanded by General Officer Commanding, Delhi Area and Chief of Staff, will be the Parade Second-in-Command. The President receives the salute. The IAF marching contingent comprising of 144 airmen and 04 officers and led by Flt Lt Shrikant Sharma (Main) and Sqn Ldr Kevin T Sebastian (S/By) will march past the Rajpath in 12X12 Box formation. The three supernumerary Officer marching behind are Flt Lt Pankaj Choudhary, Fg Offr Ragi Ramachandran and Fg Offr Vikas Yadav. The contingent will march on the tune of “Astronaut”. The IAF band which will be consisting of 72 musicians and 3 Drum Majors is lead by Junior Warrant Officer Ashok Kumar.
Vehicular Column (Air Force Tableaux) will showcase the theme ‘Indian Air Force Safeguarding the Indian Skies’. The Tableau will showcase scaled down models of the following aircrafts, radar and missile system which have been indigenously designed and manufactured:-
(i) LCA (Light Combat Aircraft)
(ii) LLLWR (Low Level Light Weight Radar)
(iii) Akash Missile System
(iv) Su – 30 MKI
In its pursuit of exhibiting the state of art Air Defence weapons, the IAF is showcasing four models on a 50 Feet long platform. This includes SU 30 MKI and LCA aircraft with air defence specific attachments, one Akash missile system launcher with three missiles and one Low level Light Weight Radar (LLLWR), Ashlesha. The models have been scaled keeping in view, the space available in vertical as well as horizontal dimensions and aesthetical considerations.
Su-30MKI is positioned on a 14 X 14 feet platform atop tractor with slight tilt in yaw giving full visibility of its upper surface to the Dias. Akash missile launcher will be the first model in the order of display on the trailer. The launcher will have three missiles deployed at 45 degrees in elevation. A 90 degrees clockwise rotation in respect to the President, the Supreme Commander while marching past the dais. The Second model on the trailer will be the indigenous Low Level Light Weight Radar (Ashlesha) with all its attachments. The antenna of the radar will be rotating at a rate of 7.5 rotations per minute. The last on the trailer, will be LCA aircraft. The model has been positioned straight in yaw and tilted in pitched up so as to provide a better visibility of its attachments.
The entire tableau will have blue backdrop in sync with the IAF colour scheme. The pictures on the sides show the firing of four Potent Air Defence Weapon systems Pechora, Akash, IGLA and the Spyder.
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Shailesh Kumar is an independent journalist with over 17 years of experience in crime, political and defence reporting for leading media brands including Star News, India TV and NewsX. He is the founder editor of defence and security news portal, National Defence.