Today is the 26th of January, and India celebrated the 72nd Republic Day with a parade on the Rajpath in New Delhi. The Republic Day parade this time around was devoid of spectators this time around, to limit the spread of the Corona Virus which still has a grip around the country. The parade is a unique opportunity for all the three branches of the military, mainly the Army and the Air-Force to showcase their latest weaponry. But as the celebrations were subdued, so were the number of vehicles and aircrafts that took part in the parade, so as to keep it short and reduce the danger of spread of the virus.

1. VVIP Vehicles

PM Modi’s entourage

The Prime Minister of India Narendra Modi earlier changed the BMW 7 Series High Security sedan which was used for a long time by his predecessors to a 2010 Range Rover HSE LWB variant which was then subsequently changed to a new Range Rover Sentinel which is part of the British brands Special Vehicle Operations-SVO division. The Sentinel comes with armored plating and armored glass, underbody blast-protection, run-flat tyres and an emergency escape system, it is powered by a Supercharged V8. Price for the vehicle is not known as it is a made-to-order product. PM car was protected by full black Mahindra Scorpio, Mercedes-Benz Sprinter van and Toyota Fortuners.

President ride

Vice President’s ride

The President of India, Ram Nath Kovind travels in a Mercedes-Benz S-Class S 600 Pullman Guard, it is quite literally one of the longest and most secure vehicles one can buy. This is the W221 version which is of an older generation, it was escorted by another black Mercedes-Benz S-Class W222, Maruti Suzuki Ertiga and elite household cavalry regiment. The Vice-President Venkaiah Naidu uses a black BMW X5 Security Plus which comes with the highest grades of security protection along with Mahindra Scorpios in escort.

2. Chronologically Aircraft, Land based military Machines.

The parade officially started with the fly-past of four Mil Mi-17 V5 helicopters each carrying a flag, with the lead helicopter carrying the Tricolor while the other three bearing the flags of the three branches of the military. While flying in wine glass formation, the Russian choppers also showered the crown with rose petals. It was led by Wing Commander Nikhil Mehrotra and Squadron leader Sariket Raj.

Then it was the turn of the Army to quite literally make the ground rumble, under the tracks of the main battle Tank, the T-90 Bhisma led by Captain Karanveer Singh Bhangu with motto- Sarvatra Yashovijay. It’s a Russian design which is tailored for Indian needs and made in India as well. The tank weighs approx 50 tons and has a 125mm smoothbore gun, an anti-aircraft gun as well, the Bhisma has ‘Hunter-Killer’ capability to engage multiple targets simultaneously. Fitted with advanced armor protection and night-combat capability, the T-90 is also capable of firing guided missiles from its main guns as well. One of the fastest and most agile main battle tanks in the world, were recently deployed in Ladakh post the Galwan region clash with China.

The MBTs were followed by the BMP-2 Sarath led Captain Akshay Rastogi with motto- Pehla Humesha Pehla. It’s an advanced variant of the Russian design made here in India. The infantry combat vehicle is fitted with a 30 mm cannon, a 7.62 mm coaxial gun and an anti-tank guided missile. The Sarath can move underwater too.

The Brahmos Land based weapon system followed the Sarath, this platform of the Brahmos is mounted on high-performance trucks from Tatra-the Czech manufacturer. The Brahmos is one of the most advanced missile systems in the world, and has the capability to fly at Mach 3.5 or 4300 Kmph. the number also means that it is the world’s fastest Anti-ship cruise missile, it can be used for mobile as well as stationary targets and is unique in the manner that i can be launched from Ship, Submarine, Fighter Jet, or land based stationary as well as mobile systems in air-to-air, air-to-surface, surface-to-air and many other configurations. It was led by Captain Quamrul Zaman with motto- Do it right – First Time& Every time..

Then comes the Pinaka Multi rocket system, which is developed by the DRDO based on Tata truck. the system saw combat in the Kargil war and is presently in a very advanced stage which can fire 12 High-explosive rockets in a salvo in just 44 seconds and rain absolute destruction upon anything. It was led by Captain Vibhor Gulati with motto Sarvatra Izzat O Iqbal.

One of the unique vehicles which participated in the parade is the Bridge Laying Tank, based on the Russian T-72 tank platform. Can construct a bridge that is 22 metres long and capable of allowing the heaviest vehicles to pass through. It was led by Captain Sachit Sharma.

The Samvijay Electronic Warfare System, which is jointly developed by DRDO and private companies to create a fully integrated electronic warfare suite to observe, report and command any battle situation. It was led by Captain Shubham Sharma with motto- Teevra Chaukas.

The Schilka weapon system is an automated Anti-Aircraft weapon system, features powerful and extremely accurate armaments and more importantly an Artificial Intelligence system that allows it to identify and engage targets much faster. It was led by Captain Preeti Chouhdary with motto- Akashe Shatrun Jahi.

A look to the skies, and a diamond-formation of the Advanced Light Helicopter can be seen thundering down. The formation consisted of two Dhruv and two Rudra helicopters, the choppers are developed and made by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, and is a shining example of Indian industrial might. The Dhruv is deployed with the Army, Navy and the Air Force while the Rudra is the armed version of the ALH, it gets a 20mm front turret, 70mm rocket pods, ATGM and air-to-air missiles. It was led by Col Sudipto Chaki.

One of the highlights of the parade was the contingent of the NSG-the National Security Guard, the elite commando force who train to the highest standards of the world and are considered one of the best SWAT (Special Weapons and Tactics) teams in the world. Wearing their black uniforms and carrying advanced weaponry, NSG also showcased their vehicles which include the Mobile Adjustable ramp system based on Ford F-Series pickup truck, the Renault Sherpa Armoured vehicle for tactical uses, and the armored critical incident . The Sherpa is a light armored vehicle, and made for fast entry exit and tactical moves and even allows combat on the move, the vehicle is also in use with the Central Industrial Security Force in certain disturbed areas.

The goal of Aatmanirbhar Bharat, the Ministry of Information tableau showcased the theme of “Local for vocal” and highlighted the Tata Nexon EV prominently, the Nexon EV is a completely indigenously built electric vehicle and Tata Motors has done it with the use of its massive footprint in electronics, chemicals and other manufacturing industries.

The final flypasts included the Douglas Dakota and the Mi-17 4V helicopters in Rudra formation, the Dakota is a heritage aircraft which served the Air Force for a long time.

This was followed by a Boeing Chinook helicopter in Sudarshan formation with two Mi-17s. The Chinook is a new addition to the fleet, and features a tandem rotor configuration, it is a heavy lift shopper as well and can even carry light tanks. The Chinook is primarily a troop carrier during Special operations of the military.

The Rakshak formation consisted of the attack choppers, the Mi-35 and four Apache helicopters. The Boeing AH-64 Apache is often regarded as the most advanced attack helicopter in the world, it is armed with a 30mm eye-motion tracking aim-capable cannon, 70mm rocket pods and ATGMs.

The Lockheed Martin C130J Super Hercules also made a fly-past in the Bhim formation. The quad-engined aircraft is a troopcarrier, equipment carrier and due to its rugged design has extreme survivability and can therefore be deployed in regions like the Himalayas. Primarily used as the special operations aircraft.

The Netra formation follows, consisting of the DRDO Netra AWACS, the system is based on an Embraer R99 aircraft while the Airborne Early Warning and Control system is developed by the DRDO. The aircraft is flanked by the Russian Sukhoi Su-30 MKI air-superiority aircraft.

Next came the Garuda formation, consisting of the Boeing C-17 Globemaster III strategic air-lift aircraft. The Indian Air Force operates 11 of these aircraft, the Globemaster is simply the most advanced heavy-lift aircraft in the world and can land even on snow. It is flanked by two Mikoyan Mig 29s and two Su-30 MKIs, the Mig is a Russian air-superiority fighter that works in tandem with the Sukhoi to provide a second layer of advanced fighter jet with god-fighting capability, mainly the Sukhoi is a bigger aircraft and therefore can carry more loads and heavier weaponry.

The newest toy in the Air Forces hangar, the Dassault Rafale made its debut at the parade in Eklavya formation. The Rafale is a french aircraft, with superior radar and avionics that can prove fatal to almost every aircraft around the world. The aircraft was flanked by the Jaguar ground-attack aircraft and the Mig-29s. The induction of the Rafale into the Air Force has proved to be a big deterrent against hostile forces.

Three Sukhois also performed the famed Trishul formation going at ear-shattering speeds.

The Sarang, helicopter air display team flew past in Vijay formation with the Tricolor smoke spewing out. The team uses HAL Dhruv helicopters.

A Rafale travelling at 900 kmph then thundered above the Rajpath and did a vertical Charlie, that is a maneuver in which the aircraft does a vertical push away from the Earth’s surface at high speed. This was the culmination of the fly pasts and the Parade.


Anagh Bhaskar

Anagh Bhaskar

I am a journalism grad who has always had a passion towards machines, especially cars and war machines, the sheer competitiveness of the industry which works with the same enthusiasm everyday without fail is what fascinates me. Favourie Car: Nissan GT-R R35 Quote: What you do in life echoes in eternity- Russell Crowe, Maximus, Gladiator