India celebrates 26 January every year as its Republic Day, since it is the date on which the Constitution of independent India came into effect, in 1950. Ever since, military parades have been the highlight of the day’s celebrations, across the country. All eyes however turn to the capital New Delhi, which hosts the main parade down its central vista, Rajpath. By tradition, General Officer Commanding Delhi Area leads the Republic Day Parade down Rajpath, as the Parade Commander, up to India Gate. From India Gate, the Parade 2nd in Command takes charge till the parade culminates at the Red Fort. This year’s parade had plenty of firsts including the display of newly developed indigenous military hardware.
1. This 68th Republic Day, commandos of the National Security Guard (NSG) marched down Rajpath for the first time. The contingent included elements of both the Special Action Group and the Special Rangers Group of the NSG.
2. Also displayed for the first time at this year’s parade were two 155 mm/52 calibre Advanced Towed Artillery Gun System (ATAGS) howitzer prototypes developed by the Defence Research and Development Organization’s (DRDO’s), Armament Research and Development Establishment (ARDE), Pune in collaboration with domestic industry. Private sector players such as Tata Power and Bharat Forge Limited are involved in this ‘Make in India’ project alongside the public sector Ordnance Factories Board (OFB). DRDO says ATAGS has superior accuracy, consistency, mobility, reliability and automation as compared to legacy systems and has achieved a range capability of over 47 km in tests. The system is configured with all electric drive technology (a first for a howitzer system) for maintenance free and reliable operation over longer periods of time.
3. The Ordnance Factory Board’s (OFB’s) Dhanush 155 mm/45 calibre howitzer was also displayed for the first time, this Republic Day. Developed by OFB’s Jabalpur-based Gun Carriage Factory (GCF), the Dhanush is a deep upgrade of the basic FH-77B 155 mm/ 39 calibre howitzer in service with the Indian Army and has mostly indigenous components. Six production level prototypes have undergone extensive testing, and serial production for delivery to the Indian Army is set to commence soon. The Dhanush has a range capability of 38 km.
4. Another highlight of the 68th Republic Day happened to be the marching contingent from the United Arab Emirates Armed Forces. The contingent was a combined unit with personnel from the UAE’s Presidential Guards, Air Force, Navy and Army, along with a 49 member marching band. The UAE had initially wanted to send its Army Paratroopers, but India declined that offer and a marching contingent from the UAE Air Force was sent instead.
5. The Akash Missile System of the Corps of Air Defence.
6. Brahmos Missile system of the Regiment of Artillery on parade at the 68th Republic Day of India
7. A Combined marching contingent of the 58 Gorkha Training Centre, marches down the central vista. A proud regiment of the Indian Army that has a rich and colourful past.
8. The T-90 Bhishma Main Battle Tank from the 58 Armoured Regiment of the Indian Army rolls down Rajpath on India’s 68th Republic Day Parade.
9. At this year’s parade, the Indian Air Force (IAF) flew the newly inducted, indigenously developed HAL Tejas, for the first time. Three IAF Tejas Aircraft flew over Rajpath at a height of 300 metres from the ground in ‘Vic’ formation.
10. The DRDO developed Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) System integrated on an Embraer ERJ-145 platform also made its its debut at this year’s Republic Day parade. This force multiplier developed by DRDO’s Centre for Air Borne Systems (CABS), is capable of communicating using VHF, UHF, C-Band and SATCOM links for Network Centric Operations. The first example is expected to enter IAF service in the coming weeks.
11. Republic Day is never complete without tableaus from various Indian states. Here the Indian state of Jammu and Kashmir depicts its famous snow capped mountains and winter tourism potential.
12. They are called Shweth Ashwa, the motorcycle Daredevils of the Corps of Military Police.
13. The Indian state of Assam showcased the ancient Kamakhya Temple of Guwahati.
All pictures sourced from Government of India websites.
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