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The entry of women into the armed forces has been a slow process, one that has even required judicial intervention. But at the Republic Day parade on Rajpath Wednesday, women officers, still few in numbers, stole the show.
While several women officers led marching contingents, one of the highlights of the parade was the presence of the first woman pilot of the newly inducted Rafale fighter aircraft.
Flight Lieutenant Shivangi Singh, posted with the No. 17 ‘Golden Arrows’ Squadron in Ambala, stood on the deck of the IAF tableau as it rolled past the saluting base.
She was the second woman fighter pilot to participate in the Republic Day parade – the first was Flight Lieutenant Bhawana Kanth who was on the IAF tableau last year.
From Varanasi, Singh joined the IAF in 2017 and belongs to its second batch of women fighter pilots. Initially commissioned to fly the MiG-21 Bison, Singh went through conversion training to fly the Rafale.
The Navy marching contingent was led by Lieutenant Commander Aanchal Sharma and also included Sub Lieutenant Avanthika Duraiswamy. Lieutenant Preeti and her colleague Lt Mayank Bhagour led the Indian Navy tableau.
Lieutenant Manisha Bohra led the Army Ordnance Corps contingent while the IAF contingent too had a woman officer — Flight Lieutenant Impanashree KY.
Women from the Border Security Force’s Seema Bhawani motorcycle team displayed their skills, performing acrobatics and carrying a placard bearing the message of Beti Bachao, Beti Padhao.
In the marching contingent of the Sashastra Seema Bal, the two Assistant Commandants were women officers.
The parade saw the largest flypast with 75 aircraft from all three services to mark 75 years of India’s Independence. For the first time, viewers were given a glimpse of what the pilots of the aircraft see — the pilot’s view and cockpit’s view were telecast.
A total of 24 tableaux were part of the parade including from the armed forces and the DRDO.
The Navy tableau was the first to come down Rajpath and had two main themes – one was a depiction of the 1946 naval uprising, and the other showcased “atmanirbharta” of the Navy, with a model of the country’s first indigenous aircraft carrier which will be commissioned later this year and named INS Vikrant.
The IAF tableau, titled ‘Indian Air Force, Transforming for the Future’ had models of the MiG-21, Gnat – aircraft which played key roles in the victory over Pakistan in the 1971 war — Light Combat Helicopter, Rafale and the Aslesha radar.
The DRDO showcased its major platforms titled ‘Suite of Indigenously Developed Sensors, Weapons and Electronic Warfare Systems for LCA Tejas’ and ‘Air Independent Propulsion System’ being developed for Navy submarines.
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