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Woman pilot to lead IAF's marching contingent at Bastille Day parade

A flying contingent of four Rafale fighters, two C-17 Globemasters and 72 IAF personnel in a group photo before their departure for France to take part in the fly past and marching on Bastille Day. Photo: PTI

NEW DELHI (PTI):  A woman helicopter pilot of the Indian Air Force will lead its marching contingent at the Bastille Day parade in Paris this week that will be graced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi as the guest of honour, officials have said.

The marching contingents of the Army, the Navy and the IAF will participate in the prestigious parade along with their French counterparts.

The officials said, Squadron Leader Sindhu Reddy will lead the 68-member IAF contingent at the parade.

Reddy, a Mi-17 pilot, led the IAF's marching contingent at the Republic Day parade on January 26 as well.

A 269-member tri-services contingent of the Indian armed forces last Thursday left for Paris on board two C-17 Globemaster aircraft, the officials said.

Four Rafale fighter jets of the IAF will also take part in the flypast over the Champs Elysees on the occasion along with French jets.

"The parade will witness a 269-member tri-services contingent of the Indian Armed Forces marching alongside their French counterparts. The contingent has left for France today," the Army said.

The association of the Indian and French armies dates back to the First World War.

"Over 1.3 million Indian soldiers participated in the war and almost 74,000 of them fought in the muddy trenches to never return, while another 67,000 were wounded," the Army said in a statement.

The Indian troops valiantly fought on French soil also.

"Their courage, valour and supreme sacrifice not only thwarted the enemy but also significantly contributed towards winning the war," it said.

"Later, World War 2 witnessed a whopping 2.5 million Indian soldiers making significant contributions in various theatres of the war from Asia to Africa and Europe," it added.

The tri-services contingent comprised 77 marching personnel from the Army and 38 members from its the band. The team is being led by Captain Aman Jagtap.

The Indian Navy contingent is being led by Commander Vrat Baghel.

The Army contingent is being represented by the Punjab Regiment which is one of the oldest regiments of the force. The troops of the regiment have participated in both the World Wars as well as the post-independence operations.

The Rajputana Rifles Regiment band is accompanying the contingent.

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