India displayed its military might in the presence of ASEAN leaders
On the occasion of 69th Republic Day, India amidst fog and freezing temperature, through a spectacular parade displayed its cultural and military might to the visiting leaders of the ASEAN countries. The parade saw the impressive flypast by the Indian Air Force (IAF) aircraft and marching contingents of Indian Armed Forces.
For the first time, instead of inviting a leader of one country as the Chief Guest, the event was attended by the 10 leaders of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) as Chief Guests. This year is the 25th year of India-ASEAN relations. The leaders also participated in ASEAN-India Commemorative Summit on January 25-26.
State Councilor Aung San Suu Kyi of Myanmar, President Joko Widodo of Indonesia, Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith of Laos, President Rodrigo Duterte of The Philippines, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong of Singapore, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc of Vietnam, Prime Minister Najib Razak of Malaysia, Prime Minister Hun Sen of Cambodia, General Prayuth Chan-o-cha of Thailand, and Sultan of Brunei Haji Hassanal Bolkiah attended the parade.
The parade started with the Indian soldiers carrying the flag of ASEAN and its 10 members. This was followed by an Indian army band.
The display of Indian military might began with Russian-made T-90 Bhishma main battle tanks followed infantry carrier BMP-II. This was followed by Indo-Russian truck mounted mobile BrahMos supersonic cruise missiles system. India also showcased homemade surface-to-air missile Akash, weapon locating radar Swathi, Ashwini radar system and under development Defence Research and Development Organisation's sub-sonic Nirbhay cruise missile. The T-72 bridge laying system, mobile base transceiver station, which is used to provide service during battle scene were also displayed.
Before the parade started, President Ram Nath Kovind gave away the Highest Gallantry Award Ashoka Chakra to Corporal Jyoti Prakash Nirala (posthumously) of the IAF. The award was received by his wife Sushma Nand and his mother Malti Devi.
The culmination of parade saw the maiden flypast of the three Rudra helicopters also known as ALH-WSI, designed and developed by the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited. This was followed by 'Hercules' formation by three C-130J Super Hercules aircraft. The US-made Hercules medium-lift aircraft are capable of landing and taking off from unpaved strips.
The Netra – an airborne early warning and control system aircraft also participated in the parade. This was followed by the 'globe' formation of one US made heavy lift aircraft C-17 Globemaster flanked by two Russian-made Su-30 MKIs.
Three indigenously builtLCA Tejas flew past in a 'vic' formation and five deep penetrating Jaguars took to skies. Later, three Su-30 MKI made a 'Trishul' in the sky by flying vertical during the flypast and another Su-30 MKI fighter plane performed 'Vertical Charlie' manoeuvre,enthralling the spectators.
This year, for the first time, the BSF women motorcycle team displayed some daring stunts and drew applause of the onlookers.
The various contingents of the three services along with the central Police organisations and other auxiliary forces participated in the parade. A total of 23 tableaux, out of which 14 from States and Union Territories, two from Ministry of External Affairs depicting long socio-cultural, religious, educational and trade relations between India and ASEAN countries and the rest of the tableaux from other ministries/departments participated in this year's Republic Day Parade.