Each of the three helicopters was from the army, air force and navy. They were part of the flypast during the parade. This was the first time that a tri-services formation was part of the parade, according to the announcement there. The formation flying at a speed of 180 kmph was led by Group Captain Abhishek Shukla, Commanding Officer 116 Helicopter Unit.
The army pilot was Lieutenant Colonel Atul Srivastava and that of Navy was Commander Ajay Yadav. The formation depicts the joint manship and synergy between the three services, which is the essence of today’s modern warfare, officials said. It comes in the backdrop of the appointment of the Chief of Defence Staff earlier this month and concerted efforts of increasing jointness between the services.
There were other firsts during the parade as well. This included the flying of Chinook and Apache helicopters as part of the flypast. Three Chinook helicopters were flying in ‘Vic’ formation at a speed of 180 kmph. The Chinook heavy-lift helicopters were inducted into the IAF at Chandigarh in March last year. The IAF had signed a contract with Boeing in September 2015 for procuring 15 Chinook helicopters.
The next formation flying in comprised of five Apache attack Apache helicopters. The battle-proven Apache attack helicopter was inducted into the Indian Air Force at Pathankot in September last year, boosting the IAF’s capabilities for conducting cross-border hits on terrorist launch pads and improving its strike packages with fighter jets. India had signed a contract with the US Government and US aerospace major, Boeing, September 2015 for 22 Apache helicopters.
The other firsts included Prime Minister Narendra Modi paying homage at the National War Memorial instead of at the Amar Jawan Jyoti.