After a gap of almost three decades an Indian made fighter jet - the single engine Tejas – will be a part of the Republic Day's flypast on January 26.
The HF-24 Marut – fighters that India made with German help - were the last Indian fighters to fly past the Rajpath. The HF-24 Marut fighters played a crucial role in the 1971 India-Pakistan war including in the Battle of Lonhewala. They were decommissioned in 1980s as the Russian-made MiG-21 emerged as India's mainstay fighters.
The first squadron of the Tejas fighters, with only two fighters, was raised last July. "Three Tejas fighters will fly over Rajpath in a Victory formation," said Group Captain Vikram Pathak, the officer who will control the fly past from the ground.
The Indian Air Force prefers not to use single engine aircraft for the Republic Day parade because of security concerns. "Flying the Tejas shows the confidence we have with the fighters," Pathak said.
For the Republic Day parade, the Tejas fighters will take-off from Bikaner. These fighters cannot yet be deployed for operations, but they have flown for over 3000 hours without an accident.
The Indian Air Force has ordered a total of about 120 Tejas fighters. Besides, India is also looking at a separate single-engine fighter to bolters to its steadily depleting fighter fleet.
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