Bengaluru: At the Republic Day parade this year, the Indian Air Force will press into action the Rafale jets and the vintage Dakota aircraft. They would be part of 42 aircraft taking part in the flypast.

Reports add that Rafale fighter jets will do a "vertical charlie" to end the flypast and Dakota would be part of Rudra formation when the Bangladesh contingent would be marching on Rajpath. This is the first time the Bangladesh contingent would be marching on Rajpath.

A note on Dakota aircraft: 


During the 1971 war, Dakota aircraft played a pivotal role in the liberation of Bangladesh and formation of Bangladesh Air Force and were used for air dropping Army troops in Bangladesh's Tangail.

Here are the salient features of Rafale aircraft: 


1. They will be able to outgun and outrun Pakistani F-16 and JF-17 as well as the Chinese Chengdu J-20 fighters.

2. The upgrades range from radar enhancements, Israeli helmet-mounted displays and low-band jammers to towed decoy systems, 10-hour flight data recording and engine capability for "cold start" from high-altitude regions like Ladakh.

3. All the 36 Rafales, which can also deliver nuclear weapons, are slated to be delivered by end-2021. The Ambala and Hashimara airbases will house 18 each for the western and eastern fronts. The Rafales will significantly add to the qualitative and quantitative edge IAF already enjoys over the Chinese air force along the 3,488-km Line of Actual Control.

4. The IAF has also projected the operational need to go in for another 36 Rafales in the backdrop of its depleting number of fighter squadrons as well as both Hasimara and Ambala having the requisite infrastructure to house two squadrons each. But that decision is yet to be taken.

5. The top speed of the aircraft is 2223 km/hr, the maximum weight of the aircraft is 24,500 kg and the range is 3,700 km.

6. It is capable of ground support, aerial reconnaissance, in-depth strikes, interception and nuclear deterrence.

"These two aircraft would be the major attractions this year," said a senior IAF officer, as quoted by a website. 

Apart from Rafale jets, Sukhoi 30s and MiG 29s - the fighter jets that are part of the IAF's muscular posture in the Ladakh sector - would participate in the flypast.

Apache attack helicopters and Chinook strategic heavy lift choppers will also be part of the Republic Day celebrations.

In addition to the 42 aircraft, there will be four Army Aviation helicopters taking part in the parade.

It is interesting to note that this Republic Day, there will be no chief guest.