Republic Day flypast to recall 1971 war glory

In December, India observed the Swarnim Vijay Parv at India Gate to mark the culmination of year-long celebrations organised across the country to commemorate the 50th anniversary of victory in the 1971 war.
The flying display is the highlight of India’s biggest ceremonial parade. As many as 75 different aircraft from the IAF, army and navy --- India is celebrating the 75th year of its Independence --- will take part in the January 26 flying display. (BLOOMBERG.)
The flying display is the highlight of India’s biggest ceremonial parade. As many as 75 different aircraft from the IAF, army and navy --- India is celebrating the 75th year of its Independence --- will take part in the January 26 flying display. (BLOOMBERG.)
Published on Jan 17, 2022 05:23 PM IST
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The military flypast at the upcoming Republic Day parade will feature flying formations to commemorate some glorious moments of India’s decisive victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war, including the historic Tangail airdrop and the Meghna operation, apart from showcasing the Indian Air Force’s combat capabilities, officials familiar with the matter said on Monday.

As many as 75 different aircraft from the IAF, army and navy --- India is celebrating the 75th year of its Independence --- will take part in the January 26 flying display, including Rafales, Sukhoi-30s, Jaguars, C-130J special operations aircraft, Mi-35 gunships, MiG-29K maritime fighters and P-8I maritime surveillance aircraft, IAF officials said at a press preview of the flypast.

“This will be the largest and grandest display,” an official said. The flying display is the highlight of India’s biggest ceremonial parade.

The indigenous Tejas light combat aircraft and the Mirage 2000 jets are not taking part in the parade as single-engine aircraft are normally not permitted to fly over Rajpath though the LCA made its debut at the 2017 parade.

The Tangail formation will feature a vintage Dakota aircraft along with two Dornier 228 aircraft, the officials said. The Tangail airdrop north of Dhaka --- the biggest airborne operation mounted by Indian paratroopers --- set the stage for surrender by the rival army.

The aim of the operation was to capture the Poongli Bridge on Jamalpur-Tangail-Dhaka road and the ferry site on Louhajang river to intercept Pakistani army’s 93 Brigade that was retreating from the north to defend Dhaka. Around 750 men of the 2nd Battalion of the Parachute Regiment were involved in the successful mission.

The paratroopers defeated a force that was three times numerically superior and shattered the will of the Pakistani army to defend Dhaka.

The Meghna formation to commemorate a critical heli-borne operation during the 1971 war will involve a CH-47F Chinook helicopter and four Mi-171V choppers, the officials said. IAF helicopters played a critical role in moving troops across the Meghna river in erstwhile East Pakistan.

Also, the IAF tableau at the parade will display of fighter planes attacking the Governor House in Dhaka and a model of the Gnat fighter that played an important part in the 1971 war.

The 1971 war, which ended with the liberation of Bangladesh, gave India a new generation of heroes including Flying Officer Nirmal Jit Singh Sekhon. Then 26, he is the first and only person in IAF to be decorated with Param Vir Chakra, the country’s highest war-time military honour. He was posthumously awarded PVC.

His moment of glory came on December 14, 1971, when the Srinagar airfield faced a furious attack by at least six Sabre aircraft of the Pakistan Air Force. In the midst of the strafing of the airfield by the enemy aircraft that presented grave danger to his own safety, Sekhon took off in his Gnat, heroically engaged a pair of Sabres, shot them down and forced the PAF package to retreat before his own aircraft was hit and exploded into a fireball.

In December, India observed the Swarnim Vijay Parv at India Gate to mark the culmination of year-long celebrations organised across the country to commemorate the 50th anniversary of victory in the 1971 war.

The 13-day war ended on December 16 with the Indian Army taking 93,000 Pakistanis as prisoners of war.

The Republic Day flypast will end with 17 Jaguar fighters flying in a formation to commemorate the 75th year of the country’s Independence.

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Thursday, May 26, 2022