A Rafale fighter jet - one of the eight inducted into the Indian Air Force over the last year - took part in the Republic Day celebrations for the first time as it carried out the demanding and spectacular "Vertical Charlie" maneuver alone and was part of the "Eklavya" formation with four other fighter jets.
The Rafale jet along with two Jaguar Deep penetration strike aircraft and two MiG-29 Air Superiority Fighters conducted the "Eklavya" formation at a height of 300 metre and a speed of 780 km/h. The five jets resembled a V shape with Rafale leading the pack.
The parade concluded with the Rafale aircraft - piloted by Group Captain Harkirat Singh, Shaurya Chakra, Commanding Officer of 17 Squadron with Squadron leader Kislaykant - flying at a speed of 900km/hr carrying out a ''Vertical Charlie'' - in which the aircraft flies at low altitude, pulls up vertically and rolls multiple times before stabilising at higher altitude.
In a major boost to India's air power capability, five French-made multirole Rafale fighter jets were inducted into the IAF on September 10 last year. Three more have subsequently been inducted of the total order of 36 jets.
A total of 38 IAF aircraft and four planes of the Indian Army participated in the flypast today.