The full dress rehearsal for the Republic Day Parade Celebrations-2019 will be held on Wednesday by all the contingents of forces. Keeping up with the sway, a host of country’s air defence capabilities will also be showcased during the Republic Day celebrations here, including a ‘vic’ formation of An-32 aircraft, whose lead plane will be flying using a mix of jet aviation and bio-fuel for the first time during the parade, as a part of the fly past. The main attraction for this year will be IAF star formation Sutlej.

IAF’s fly-past on the day would comprise of 33 aircraft of the Indian Air Force and four helicopters of the Indian Army’s aviation arm. The aircraft types would include 18 fighters, eight transport aircraft, and 11 helicopters.

On the day, the flypast will be conducted in two phases. Leading the parade would be the ‘Ensign’ formation comprising four Mi-17 V5 helicopters in an inverted ‘Y’ formation, also referred to as the “Wineglass formation”. They will fly past trooping the National flag and the ensigns of the three services. They will be followed by ‘Dhruv’ formation comprising four Advanced Light Helicopters of the Army Aviation including two armed ALH- Rudra.

Republic Day 2019, IAF’s star formation Sutlej, Republic Day Parade, Indian Air Force, Indian Army, Army Aviation, C-17 Globemaster, Su-30s
A model of the IAF tableau that will be part of this year’s Republic Day Parade.


The second and the main phase of the flypast by the air warriors will commence after the end of the surface parade immediately after the Dare Devil display. This will be led by ‘Rudra’ formation of three ALH Mk IV WSI helicopters of IAF in ‘vic’ formation, followed by three C-130J Super Hercules ac in ‘vic’ formation.

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Thereafter will follow the attraction for this year, ‘Sutlej’, comprising of three An-32 aircraft, with the lead aircraft using Bio-jet Fuel blend will be flown. India’s quest to seek alternate sources of fuel towards reducing its dependence on crude oil will be showcased by the act.

The lead aircraft of the formation, to be piloted by Sqn Ldr Mehtab Sond of the Aircraft Systems Testing Establishment, who will be flying the craft utilizing Aviation Turbine Fuel blended with 10% Bio-fuel. This particular form of Bio-fuel has been extracted from ‘Jatropha’ plant seeds using a technology patented by Council of Scientific and Industrial Research and Indian Institute of Petroleum, Dehradun.

Republic Day 2019, IAF’s star formation Sutlej, Republic Day Parade, Indian Air Force, Indian Army, Army Aviation, C-17 Globemaster, Su-30s
(Photo courtesy: Wng CDR Indranil Nandi, IAF)


The successful trials will lead to a significant reduction in India’s dependency on imported crude oil. IAF’s initiative is in line with the Prime Minister’s vision to reduce crude oil imports and dependency to the tune of 10% by 2021. The other two ac will be captained by Sqn Ldr Gautam Bajaj and Wng Cdr Arun Chandan, followed by mixed formation comprising a single AEW&C flanked by two Su-30s called ‘Netra’.

Thereafter, another mixed formation of C-17 Globemaster flanked by two Su-30s in vic formation called ‘Globe’ formation will fly past the main dais. This will be followed by pure fighter formations. The first fighter formation is Jaguar formation consisting of five Jaguar aircraft in arrowhead formation to be followed by five Mig-29 Upgrade ac in a similar formation, with call sign ‘Fulcrum’. Subsequently, ‘Sukhoi’ formation comprising three SU-30 MKI aircraft, will execute the famous thundering ‘Trishul’ manoeuvre. In this, the lead Su-30Mki would execute a vertical manoeuvre on reaching in front of the dais while the flanking ac would split outwards forming a trident.

Republic Day 2019, IAF’s star formation Sutlej, Republic Day Parade, Indian Air Force, Indian Army, Army Aviation, C-17 Globemaster, Su-30s
(Photo courtesy: Wng CDR Indranil Nandi, IAF)


The end of the parade will be marked by a single SU-30 MKI ac of the IAF, carrying out the signature ‘Vertical Charlie’ in front of the dais. All aircraft will fly-in from the Rashtrapati Bhawan side and exit towards the India Gate at heights between 60 mt to 300 mt above ground level, as reported.

On-ground, the theme of Indian Air Force Tableau 2019 is ‘Indian Air Force: Safeguarding Indian skies’. The theme underlines the air defence capabilities of IAF and its commitment to defend the airspace of the nation against any threat. The entire tableau will have a blue backdrop in sync with the IAF colour scheme.  The pictures on the sides will depict the firing of four Potent Air Defence Weapon systems Pechora, Akash, IGLA, and the Spyder.

In its pursuit of exhibiting state-of-art Air Defence weapons, the IAF will be showcasing four models on a 50-feet long platform, which would include SU 30 MKI and LCA aircraft with air defence specific attachments, one Akash missile system launcher with three missiles and one Low-level Light Weight Radar (LLLWR), Ashlesha.

A Su-30MKI, positioned on a 14 X 14 feet platform atop tractor with a slight tilt in yaw giving full visibility of its upper surface to the Dias. Akash missile launcher will be the first model in the order of display on the trailer. The launcher will have three missiles deployed at 45 degrees in elevation. A 90 degrees clockwise rotation in respect to the President, the Supreme Commander while marching past the dais.

The Second model on the trailer will be the indigenous Low-Level Light Weight Radar (Ashlesha) with all its attachments.  The antenna of the radar will be rotating at a rate of 7.5 rotations per minute.  The last on the trailer will be LCA aircraft.  The model has been positioned straight in yaw and tilted in pitched up so as to provide better visibility of its attachments for the audience on the day.

One may take a look at the glimpses from the practices undertaken by the air warriors as captured by Wng CDR Indranil Nandi of IAF.

(The writer is a Delhi-based independent contributor to print and online publications)