Six Indians will be part of the French military team that will march down the majestic Kartavya Path alongside Indian contingents at the 75th Republic Day parade on Friday, officials said. India will display an array of home-grown weaponry and military equipment such as missiles, drone jammer, surveillance systems, vehicle-mounted mortars and BMP-II infantry combat vehicles at the parade that will largely be “women-centric”, they said.
For the first time, an all-women tri-services contingent will be part of the country’s biggest ceremonial event, the officials said.
In another historic first, Lieutenants Deepti Rana and Priyanka Sevda, who are among 10 women officers commissioned into the Regiment of Artillery for the first time last year, will lead the Swathi weapon locating radar and Pinaka rocket system at the parade.
“80 percent of activities at the parade will be done by women,” said Major General Sumit Mehta, the chief of staff of Army’s Delhi area headquarters.
French President Emmanuel Macron will be the Chief Guest at the Republic Day celebrations on January 26 that would make him the sixth leader from France to grace the prestigious annual event.
A 95-member marching contingent and 33-member band contingent from France will take part in the parade. Two Rafale fighters and an Airbus A330 multi-role tanker transport aircraft of the French air force will also feature in the celebrations.
“Six Indians will be part of the French team,” said commander of the French marching contingent Captain Noel Louis, who belongs to the Corps of French Foreign Legion.
French Foreign Legion is an elite military corps open to foreigners to serve in the French Army with certain conditions.
The Indians to be part of the French contingent are CCH Sujan Pathak (Chief corporal), CPL Dipak Arya (Corporal), CPL Parbin Tandan (Corporal), Gurvachan Singh (First Class Legionnaire), Aniket Ghartimagar (First Class Legionnaire) and Vikas Djeassegar (First Class Legionnaire) Set up in 1831, the French Foreign Legion is an integral part of the French Army.
At present, it has almost 9,500 officers and legionnaires, comprising around 140 nationalities from all over the world, said Louis.
“It is a great honour to be part of India’s Republic Day parade,” he said on the sidelines of an event organised by the Indian Army.
Lt Romain Bression, another member of the French team, said the participation of the French military team at the grand parade is reflective of growing defence cooperation between the two sides.
“It is a great opportunity for me. I am happy to be in India,” he said.
Major General Mehta said indigenously developed advanced radio frequency monitoring system and drone jammers will be showcased at the parade for the first time.
“It is an indigenously-developed system. We are looking forward to displaying it at the prestigious event,” said Captain Akansha Gomes, the contingent commander for the Advanced Radio Frequency Monitoring Systems.
The weapons and platforms to be displayed at the parade will also include T-90 Bhisma tanks, Nag missile systems, BMP-II infantry combat vehicle, Pinaka multi-rocket launching system, Swati weapon locating radars, and various all terrain vehicles.
“When the mechanised columns will go past the presidential dias, there will be a flypast by a fleet of Rudra advanced light helicopter (weapon system integration version) and light combat helicopters,” Mehta said at a media briefing.
The commander of the parade would be Delhi Area Commander Lt Gen Bhavnish Kumar.
The Army columns will comprise Madras Regiment, Grenadiers, Rajputana Rifles.
Instead of the traditional military bands, the parade this time will commence with 100 women artistes playing Indian musical instruments like shankh and ‘nagada’ and ‘dhol’.
Mehta said the parade will start at 10:30 am and the event will last for 100 minutes.
The celebrations will end with the flypast by 46 aircraft of the Indian Air Force.
The IAF fleet will include 29 fighter jets, seven transport aircraft, nine helicopters and one heritage plane. All these aircraft will operate from six different bases.
Fifteen women pilots, including six from the fighter streams, will operate various IAF platforms during the fly-past.
For the first time, indigenously-built Tejas aircraft will fly in a formation of four aircraft.
There was a previous occasion of one Tejas jet being part of the Republic Day parade.
But for the first time the aircraft will fly in a formation.
A total of 16 tableaux from states and Union territories and from central ministries and departments will roll down the Kartavya Path during the parade.
The states and Union territories are: Arunachal Pradesh, Haryana, Manipur, Madhya Pradesh, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Ladakh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Meghalaya, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh and Telangana.
Armed Forces Medical Services will also have an all women tri-services contingent having representations from the medical components of the Army, Navy and the IAF besides personnel from the Dental branch and military nursing services.
The contingent will be led by Major Srishti Khullar. Mehta said the BSF’s camel contingent will comprise both men and soldiers.
The marching contingents of the National Cadet Corps will comprise women only.