Marching contingents led by women officers, the first-ever participation of veterans from Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose’s Indian National Army (INA) and some of the latest weapons of the Indian Army will be among the highlights of the Republic Day 2019 parade, a senior army officer said on Wednesday.Maj Gen Rajpal Punia, chief of staff (headquarters) Delhi Area, said increased participation of women at the 70th Republic Day parade would be reflected in an all-women contingent of Assam Rifles, a woman officer leading the Army Service Corps marching squad and an officer who will be the first and only woman to be a part of the Corps of Signals’ motorcycle stunt team.Punia, the second-in-command of the parade, said that INA would be represented by four veterans for the first time, all aged between 95 and 100. Among them, Bhagmal from Manesar, will be the oldest participant in the parade, to be led by Lt Gen Asit Mistry, general officer commanding, (headquarters) Delhi Area.The army’s M777 ultra-light howitzers and the K-9 Vajra artillery guns will be showcased at the parade for the first time. A contingent of the Gorkha Brigade will also take part in the parade for the first time. The parade will feature a total of 16 marching contingents and an equal number of bands.South African President Cyril Ramaphosa will be the chief guest at this year’s Republic Day function. Three Param Vir Chakra and five Ashok Chakra awardees will take part in the parade. States and different government departments will be represented by 22 tableaux, with the theme being the 150 birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi.The fly past at the parade will involve 18 fighter jets, eight transport planes and several helicopters. One of the AN-32 transport planes taking part in the flying display will use aviation turbine fuel blended with 10% bio-jet fuel for the first time. Extracted from jatropha plant seeds, the use of bio-jet fuel could lead to significant savings for the IAF in the coming years.