The homemade Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas debuted at the Republic Day Parade today as part of a 35-plane air display. The flypast also included Mi17 helicopters, Sukhoi Su 30 fighter jets, the Advance Light Helicopter Rudra and military transport aircraft C-17 Globe Master.
The last time an indigenous fighter was seen in a Republic Day flypast was in the 1990s. That was the fighter-bomber Marut, developed in the 1960s by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited or HAL.
Today’s parade began with four Mi-17 helicopters flying the Indian flag and three other helicopters with ensigns of the Army, Navy and Air Force showering flowers.
Designed and developed by the Aeronautical Development Agency and HAL, the Tejas was inducted into the Indian Air Force’s 45 squadron ‘Flying Daggers’ in July last year. The squadron at present operates from Bengaluru, but will be moved soon to Sulur in Coimbatore.
Production is planned to increase from the present eight aircraft a year to 16.
The Tejas was showcased at the Bahrain air show last year and on Air Force Day in October, it roared through the skies over the Hindon air base near Delhi. The Tejas was also flown at the IAF’s fire power demonstration Iron Fist, Aero India.
The Made in India Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AEW&C) was also showcased today at the Republic Day parade. The AEW&C is an ‘Eye in the Sky’ and a force multiplier – it consists of multiple sensors for surveillance and signal intelligence and helps in air defence operations.
India celebrates its 68th Republic Day today. President Pranab Mukherjee, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and top ministers were joined by chief guest Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan for the parade.