The best of Indian defence — the ‘black cat’ commandos and indigenously developed light combat aircraft (LCA) Tejas and 155-mm Dhanush artillery gun — made their debut at the 68th Republic Day parade in Delhi on Thursday.
A contingent of about 140 ‘black cat’ commandos of the National Security Guard (NSG), clad in black overalls, balaclava headgear and carrying special assault rifle MP-5 added dashing sheen to the parade.
The march past by the NSG also displayed ‘Sherpa’ — a specially designed hijack intervention vehicle — and two gypsies used for anti-hijack operations.
Despite an overcast sky and light drizzle, Mi-17 V5 helicopters flew with the Indian flag and showered flower petals on the dignitaries and spectators besides advanced light helicopters Rudra and Dhruv, Mi-35 attack helicopters, C-130J and C-17 transport aircraft and fighter jets Sukhoi, Jaguars and MIG 29s.
Three fighter jets flew at a height of 300 metres from the ground at a speed of 780 km per hour in ‘VIC’ formation, leaving spectators in awe.
The Dhanush artillery gun was part of the Army’s mechanised columns along with Akash missile and Mobile Autonomous Launcher of the BrahMos Missile System.
Manufactured by Jabalpur-based Gun Carriage Factory, the 155-mm gun costs about Rs 14.50 crore a piece. It is a modified version of Bofors Howitzers gun bought by India in the 1980s.
Specialised in hostage rescue, the NSG is trained to operate at short notice in urban, jungle, land, air or water scenarios.
Ever since its inception in 1984, the NSG has carried out 115 anti-terror operations, including against the 26/11 Mumbai attack and the attack on Air Force Station, Pathankot.
Indigenously developed by the Aeronautical Development Agency and produced by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, Tejas, as a fourth generation aircraft, can fly at 1,350 km per hour and is comparable to the world’s best fighters, including French Mirage 2000, American F-16 and Swedish Gripen.
The fighter jet was inducted into 45th Squadron of the Indian Air Force in July 2016 with two aircraft. The plan is to increase the production of aircraft from the present eight to 16 aircraft each year.
The Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AEW&C), which also made a debut at the parade, is an ‘Eye in the Sky’ that consists of multiple sensors for surveillance and signal intelligence. It helps in air defence operations.
The Su-30, meanwhile, left spectators spellbound with a thrilling vertical climb.