A Dakota — a vintage transport aircraft older than the Indian Republic itself — will fly overhead as a Bangladesh military contingent marches at New Delhi’s Rajpath on Republic Day to mark 50 years of the 1971 Bangladesh liberation war.
The aircraft, which participated in the 1971 war too but began to be phased out soon after, will be flanked by two Mi-17-1V at the flypast in a Rudra formation — a first for the Dakota.
The refurbished aircraft had made its maiden appearance at the Air Force Day flypast on 8 October 2018, flanked by other members of the IAF’s vintage fleet, which was formed to showcase the rich legacy of the force.
This was about six months after ‘Parashuram’, the refurbished Dakota bearing the tail no. VP 905, became part of the Indian Air Force’s vintage aircraft fleet that also includes the Tiger Moth (operated by IAF from 1939 to 1957, one aircraft was refurbished in 2012), and the T-6G Harvard aircraft (which served during the Second World War and was refurbished in 2014).
Aside from the Dakota, fighters such as the newly-inducted Rafale and the indigenous Tejas will also participate in the Republic Day flypast, along with the Apache and Chinook helicopters.
The Dakota holds tremendous significance in the history of India as it was the first of the major transport aircraft inducted into the IAF. The aircraft entered Squadron No. 12 of the IAF in 1946.