Woman leads IAF contingent on R-Day

New Delhi: A woman leading an Air Force contingent, a deadly missile covering 3,000km, a newly-developed UAV and recently acquired Super Hercules aircraft were among the firsts at the Republic Day parade here today when the country showcased its military might and cultural diversity.

Flight Lieutenant Sneha Shekhawat became the first woman to lead an IAF contingent in the 63-year-old history of the parade.She was the face of elegance and confidence as she led the 144-member strong Air Force contingent marching to the tunes of its band playing `Air Battle`.

The Agni-IV, successfully flight tested last November, stole the limelight as people cheered when the missile which can carry nuclear weapons was rolled out on the majestic Rajpath.

The Intermediate Range Surface-to-Surface Ballistic Missile mounted on a road mobile launcher was paraded by the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO).

The elite organisation also put on display for the first time the 150 km range Prahaar Tactical Battlefield Support Missile and the Rustom-1 Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV). Indigenously designed and developed RUSTOM-1, the unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), was another eye-catcher at the parade.

The medium altitude long endurance unmanned aerial vehicle (Male UAV) has been developed by the DRDO with Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE) in Bangalore.

RUSTOM-I, named after late Prof Rustom B Damania will replace or supplement the Heron UAVs in service with the Indian armed forces. It has has the potential military missions like reconnaissance and surveillance, target acquisition, target designation, communications relay, battle damage assessment and signal intelligence.

Three of the six C-130J Super Hercules aircraft recently bought from the US was another first in the parade. The sixth aircraft was brought as late as November 2011.