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Indian Rafales in sky, tri-services contingent marching down Champs Elysees — why Friday’s Bastille Day Parade will make history

IAF's Rafale fighter jets in France for the Bastille Day Parade on July 14 where PM Narendra Modi will be the guest of honour (All images courtesy: Ministry of Defence)

Stage is perfectly set for a 269-member tri-services contingent of the Indian Armed Forces to march in unison alongside their French counterparts at Paris’ famed Champs-Elysees avenue during Bastille Day Parade where Prime Minister Narendra Modi has been invited as a ‘Guest of Honour’ on July 14.

A flying contingent of four Rafale fighters, two C-17 Globemasters and 72 personnel from the Indian Air Force (IAF) arrived at the French Air Force’s Evreux-Fauville base, reflective of the 25-year Indo-French strategic partnership that continues to mature – both on ground, as well as in air.

As the formation of Indian Rafales fly over the Champs-Elysees this Friday, the IAF parade contingent will be commanded by accomplished Mi-17 pilot Squadron Leader Sindhu Reddy who has also extensively flown the Alouette-III helicopter in her service.

Rafale Bastille Day

In a statement issued last week, the IAF recalled that the fly past and marching by the Indian air warriors on Bastille Day follows a long association that the two nations share, especially in the field of air power.

Many Indians like Welinkar, Shivdev Singh, HC Dewan and Jumbo Majumdar have fought over the skies of France during the two World Wars. Some, like Jumbo Majumdar were also decorated for their gallant action, over the Falaise Gap, during the terminal phase of World War II.

“The Indian Air Force has also operated multiple French aircraft starting with the Ouragan. This was followed by fighter aircraft like Breguet Alize, Mystere IVA, SEPECAT Jaguar, Mirage 2000 and now, the Rafale. Helicopters like the Alouette-III and Lama continue to render yeoman services to India, especially in the remote Himalayan areas,” stated the IAF statement.

The professional ties between the two Air Forces have also been strengthened during flying exercises like Ex Desert Knight, Garuda and Orion.

The Indian Navy’s marching contingent of four officers and 64 sailors will be led by Commander Vrat Baghel, a specialist in gunnery and missile warfare who has sailed on the French naval ship BCR Var during bilateral exercise Varuna.

The Indian Navy will also be represented by INS Chennai, an indigenously built frontline destroyer, which will be deployed to France from July 12–16 to commemorate the Bastille Day celebrations at Brest.

INS Chennai

“The two countries enjoy deep ties in the maritime domain which extend to their navies as well. Indigenous construction of the Project 75 Scorpene class submarines by Mazagon Dock Shipbuilders Limited in collaboration with France’s Naval Group has not only enhanced naval capability but also paved the way for future programmes,” emphasises the Indian Navy.

As reported by IndiaNarrative.com extensively, France is also offering Dassault Aviation’s Rafale maritime fighter for carrier operations on India’s first indigenously designed and built aircraft carrier INS Vikrant.

The Indian Army, which will represented at the parade by 77 marching personnel from the Punjab Regiment and 38 members of the
Rajputana Rifles regiment band, too recalls its historical association with the French armies dating back to the two world wars when they displayed their valour on the battlefields of the country.

Troops of the Punjab Regiment, one of the oldest in the Indian Army, participated in both world wars, earning dozens of battle and theatre honours.

Raised at Rajasthan’s Nasirabad in 1920 and recipient of six Victoria Cross prior to independence, the Rajputana Rifles Regiment Band also made exemplary contributions in both world wars while fighting in every theatre where the Indian Army was involved.

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