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Chinook, Apache to take part in R-Day flypast for first time; IAF tableau to showcase Rafale, Tejas

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NEW DELHI (PTI): Newly-inducted stealth attack helicopter Apache and transport chopper Chinook will take part in the Republic Day flypast for the first time while a model of Rafale fighter jet will be showcased as part of the Indian Air Force's tableau, officials said on Monday.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had participated in the official handover ceremony in France in October last year for the first Rafale combat jet acquired by the IAF.

During the Republic Day parade, the IAF will also showcase its might and glory, with its tableau depicting scaled-down models of five systems recently added to its inventory – Rafale aircraft, indigenously developed Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas, Light Combat Helicopter (LCH), surface-to-air guided weapon Aakash missile and Astra missiles.

Flt Lt Shrikant Sharma will lead the 144-strong IAF contingent on Rajpath for the second time in a row, while Warrant Officer Ashok Kumar, an accomplished Drum Major, will front the IAF band, the officials said.

"The Republic Day flypast will comprise 41 aircraft of the IAF and four helicopters of the Army's aviation arm. The aircraft types include 16 fighters, 10 transport aircraft and 19 helicopters. The flypast will be conducted in two phases," a senior IAF official said.

Leading the ceremonial 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 flypast the dais, trooping the national flag and the ensigns of the three services. They will be followed by 'Dhruv' formation, comprising four Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) of the Army Aviation.

The second and the main phase will commence after the end of the ceremonial parade. This will be led by 'Rudra' formation of three ALH Mk-IV WSI helicopters of the IAF, flying in 'vic' formation, the officials said.

The 'Chinook' formation will comprise three newly-inducted transport helicopters in 'vic' formation, a senior IAF official said.

Following them will be the 'Apache' formation consisting of the latest attack helicopters of the Indian Air Force.

The five attack helicopters would be flying in 'arrowhead' formation, he said.

The Chinook, twin-engine, tandem rotor is a multi-role, vertical-lift platform, which is used for transporting troops, artillery, equipment and fuel.

The helicopter can carry out military operations not only during the day but also at night too.

Four of the US-made heavy-lift helicopters were inducted into the IAF in March last year.

Eight US-made Apache stealth attack helicopters were inducted into the IAF in September last year, significantly boosting the force's firepower capability at a time when India faces complex security challenges, including cross-border terrorism.

Leading the fixed wing formations this year would be Dornier formation consisting of three Dornier aircraft in 'vic' formation. After this, the three C-130J Super Hercules ac will fly in 'vic' formation. This will be followed by the 'Eye in the Sky- Netra' formation, comprising a single AEW&C flanked by two Su-30 MKIs, the officials said.

Thereafter, a formation of three C-17 Globemasters, in 'displaced trail vic' formation called 'Globe' formation will flypast the dais, showcasing the IAF's heavy lift capabilities.

Following the Globe formation is the first fighter formation, the 'Jaguar' formation, consisting of five Jaguar aircraft in arrowhead formation. This is followed by five MiG-29 Upgrade aircraft in similar formation, callsign 'Fulcrum'," he said.

Thereafter, 'Sukhoi' formation comprising three SU-30 MKI aircraft from Air Force Station Jodhpur, will execute the famous Trishul manoeuvre. In this, the lead Su-30 would execute a vertical manoeuvre on reaching in front of the dais while the flanking ac would split outwards forming a trident, he added.

The end of the parade will be marked by a single SU-30 MKI aircraft Flanker of the IAF, carrying out the signature 'vertical charlie' in front of the dais. All aircraft will fly-in from the Rashtrapati Bhavan side and exit towards the India Gate at height between 60 metres to 300 metres above ground level.

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