A host of country's air defence capabilities will be showcased during the Republic Day celebrations here, including a 'vic' formation of A-32 aircraft, whose lead plane will be flying using a mix of traditional and bio-fuel for the first time during the parade, a senior IAF official Wednesday said.
The 'vic' formation is devised for military aircraft and comprises three or sometimes more aircraft flying in close formation with the leader at the apex and the rest of the flight en echelon to left and right, the whole resembling the letter 'V'. This formation will follow the swashbuckling main flypast which leaves the crowd at the ceremonial boulevard spellbound every year on January 26.
"The An-32 (Satluj) formation will also exhibit India's quest to seek alternative sources of fuel. The lead aircraft of the formation, piloted by Sqn Ldr Mehtab Sond of the Aircraft Systems Testing Establishment, will be flying utilising Aviation Turbine Fuel blended with 10 per cent biofuel," the senior official said. The biofuel has been extracted from Jatropha plant seeds using a technology patented by the Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the Indian Institute of Petroleum, Dehradun, the IAF said.
"The other two aircraft in the 'vic' formation will be flying on traditional Aviation Turbine Fuel and captained by Sqn Ldr Gautam Bajaj and Wg Cdr Arun Chandan...The successful trials will lead to a significant reduction in India's dependency on imported crude oil," he said. A media preview was Wednesday held at the Akash Air Force Officers Mess, where air force officers fronting the 144-strong Indian Air Force contingent and the leader of the IAF band, participating in the celebrations, interacted with reporters.
The IAF said its initiative is "in line with the prime minister's vision" to reduce crude oil imports and dependency on it to the tune of 10 per cent by 2021, he said. The main flypast will comprise 33 aircraft of the IAF and four helicopters of the Army's aviation arm, the IAF said. "The aircraft types include 18 fighters, eight transport aircraft and 11 helicopters. The flypast will be conducted in two phases. The end of the parade will be marked by a single Sukhoi aircraft Su-30 MKI of the IAF performing the signature 'vertical charlie' in the air.
According to the IAF, the theme for its R-Day tableau is 'Indian Air Force: Safeguarding Indian Skies'. The tableau will showcase scaled down models of Light Combat Aircraft, Sukhoi-30 MKI and Low-Level Light Weight Radar, which have been indigenously designed and manufactured.
"The theme underlines the air defence capabilities of the IAF and its commitment to defend the airspace of our country against any threat," the official said. Flt Lt Srikant Sharma, who will lead the IAF marching contingent on Rajpath on the Republic Day was ecstatic and said, "It was a fulfilment of another dream." "I have seen R-Day parade on TV and on Rajpath since childhood days and getting into the Armed Forces was a dream come true and this opportunity to lead the contingent is icing on the cake," he told PTI.
Flt Lt Pankaj Choudhary and Flying Officers Ragi Ramachandran and Vikas Yadav will be in the vanguard led by Sharma, the IAF said. Ramachandran said it was a "moment of great pride" that also "inspires great humility in me" given the prestige the Republic Day celebrations held for one and all.
(With inputs from agencies.)