The Republic Day celebrations in Rajpath not only provided a glimpse of the military might of the country, but also added a few surprises.
For the first time, a marching contingent from the country’s elite counter terror and anti-hijacking force, the National Security Guard, participated in the Republic Day parade. The contingent consisted of 140 NSG personnel in black overalls and balaclava headgear, carrying assault rifle MP-5 .
The commandos marched, singing the NSG song “Hum haina haina hindustan” written by noted lyricist Javed Akhtar. Along with the contingent, displayed were the counter-terror vehicle ‘Sherpa’ and two specially armoured gypsies used for anti-hijacking operations.
“This year when the proposal to have a marching contingent in the parade came from the government, the NSG was more than ready to accept it,” said an NSG official.
The locally-build Dhanush artillery gun also made its maiden appearance. The weapon, manufactured by Jabalpur-based Gun Carriage Factory, costs Rs 14.50 crore per piece. It has a range of 38 km.
The Embraer-145 plane of the Indian Air Force, mounted with indigenously-developed airborne early warning and control (AEW&C) systems, took part in the parade for the first time. India inked a $208-million deal for three Brazil-built Embraer-145 planes in 2008 as part of a Defence Research and Development Organisation programme to scale up the IAF’s AEW&C capabilities. The deal was in news last year due to kickback allegations.
Before the other supersonic fight aircraft of the Indian air force zoomed past Rajpath, the Light combat aircraft, LCA Tejas, took part in the Republic Day fly past for the first time. The Indian Air Force has already raised its first LCA squadron and plans to deploy 123 such single-engine locally built fighters.