India displays military might with Agni-III, Shourya

India displayed its military might at the Republic Day parade by showcasing a variety of weapon systems and for the first time unveiling the Shourya surface-to-surface strategic missile that has enhanced the country’s ‘second strike’ option. Even though the weather played truant — the flypast had to be curtailed as several aircraft could not take off due to low visibility — the parade continued as per schedule with a variety of military hardware being paraded down Rajpath.

Besides the Shourya missile, an easy-to-conceal nuclear strike missile, the Agni-III long range ballistic missile, which is set to be tested again shortly, was displayed at the parade. Other than Russian origin hardware like the SMERCH multiple launch rocket systems, indigenous systems including the Arjun Tank and the Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) were also put on display. The Rohini radar was also showcased at the parade.

In another first, the Air Force displayed its newest acquisition — the IL-76 borne Phalcon Airborne Early Warning and Control System (AWACS) — that took part in a flypast along with two Su 30 MKI fighters. Also part of the flypast was a formation of Jaguar fighters and a display of transport aircraft including the An-32. However, due to bad weather, a formation of MiG-29 fighters as well as the Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) could not take part in the fly past. The traditional showering of flowers by Mi-17 helicopters too had to be cancelled due to low visibility.

Before the parade, President Pratibha Patil conferred the nation's highest peacetime gallantry award, Ashok Charka on Major D Sreeram Kumar of 39 Assam Rifles, Major Mohit Sharma (posthumous) of 1st Battalion, the Parachute Regiment (Special Forces) and Havildar Rajesh Kumar (posthumous) of 11th Battalion, the Rajputana Rifles. On behalf of Major Sharma, his wife, Major Rishima Sharma, who is an Armed Forces doctor, received the medal.The chief guest at this year’s parade was Lee Myung-bak, President of the Republic of Korea. The parade, which contained marching contingents from the three Armed Forces and paramilitary forces, was commanded by Lt Gen Kanwal Jeet Singh Oberoi, who is the General Officer Commanding (GOC), Delhi Area. Brig Kuldip Singh, a product of Sainik School Purulia, was the parade Second-in-Command.

The Army marching contingents included horse-mounted columns of the 61st Cavalry, the Brigade of the Guards, Madras Regiment, Jat Regiment, Sikh Regiment, Dogra Regiment, Bihar Regiment, Gorkha Regiment and the Territorial Army.

Tableaux from 21 states, central ministries and departments showcased the country's progress in various fields. This included a tableau on the Commonwealth Games by the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports.

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