The Kartavya Path became a spectacle to witness with Republic Day celebrations taking place in full fervour on Friday. The celebrations were not just limited to land but extended to the sky as well when 54 aircraft gave a fly-past in a grand salute.
Captivating the spectators, the contingent flew past with a booming sound and went on to perform several midair acrobatics. The pilots began with the ‘Prachand’ formation comprising one LCH in lead with two Apache Helicopters and Two ALH Mk-IV in echelon flying in five aircraft ‘Arrow Formation.’ It was followed by the ‘Tangail’ formation comprising one Dakota in lead with two Dornier aircrafts in the echelon flying in ‘Vic’ formation.
The ‘Arjan’ formation comprised one C-295 aircraft in lead with two C-130J aircrafts in echelon flying in ‘Vic’ formation. The ‘Netra’ formation comprised one AEW&C aircraft and two X Su-30 aircraft in echelon flying in ‘Vic’ formation.
The ‘Varuna’ formation comprised one p-8i aircraft and two X Su-30 aircrafts in echelon flying in ‘vic’ formation. A C-17 aircraft with two Su-30 ac in echelon (streaming fuel) flying past in ‘Vic’ formation displayed the ‘Bheem’ formation.
The performance was followed by four X Tejas aircrafts flying past in ‘Diamond’ formation. The ‘Vajraang’ formation consisted of six Rafale aircrafts flying in ‘Marut’ formation. Next was the Amrit formation of six Jaguar aircrafts flying past over the water channel north of Kartvya Path in ‘Arrow-head’ formation.
The last leg of the flypast exhilarated viewers as three Su-30 Mk-I aircrafts in ‘Trishul’ formation flew at 900 kmph over water channel north of Kartavya Path along with the IAF Marching Contingent. Approaching the dais, the formation pulled up outwards for Trishul manoeuvre.
Next was, one Rafale aircraft flying at 900 kmph behind Trishul formation over the north water channel. Approaching the dais, the aircraft pulled up for Vertical Charlie and carried out multiple turns.
Earlier, the band and marching contingent of France was accompanied overhead by two Rafale fighter jets and one Airbus A330 Multi Role Transport Tanker (MRTT) flying in triangle formation. The two Rafale come from the 104 “Al Dhafra” air base, located in the UAE.
Their unit traces its origin back to World War I and II, and was the first unit to get the Rafale in early 2006, as a replacement for the Jaguar. The Rafale were followed by ‘Phoenix’ MRTT, capable of refuelling two fighters simultaneously or a single surveillance aircraft. It carries up to 110 ton of fuel.
(With inputs from PTI)