The recently introduced Rafale fighter aircraft will feature in the Republic Day parade on January 26 and culminate the flypast by carrying out the 'Vertical Charlie' formation, the Indian Air Force (IAF) said on Monday. In another first, flight lieutenant Bhawana Kanth is part of the R-Day celebrations, making her the first woman fighter pilot to be part of the parade.
Flt Lt. Bhawana Kanth was part of the first batch of three women fighter pilots who joined the IAF in 2016. She will be part of the IAF tableaux contingent that will showcase the Make in India initiative with the models of LCA Tejas, Light Combat Helicopter, Rohini Radar, Akash Missile and Sukhoi 30MKI.
Kanth belongs from Darbhanga in Bihar, was born and brought up in the Refinery Township, Begusarai where her father worked as an engineer in IOCL. She did her schooling at Barauni Refinery DAV Public School and completed her bachelor of engineering in medical electronics from BMS College of Engineering in Bengaluru.
She loves playing badminton, volleyball and adventure sports and is also interested in photography, cooking, swimming and traveling. After clearing Stage I training, she got the opportunity to opt for the fighter stream. “I told myself that if I don’t do it now I will always be afraid of it. I spun the aircraft and to my surprise, the spin was more vicious or so it seemed. But the fighter pilot in me took over and I told myself come what may I will recover. And the aircraft recovered from spin and so did my confidence,” she had said.
This year, the Rafale fighter jet will also take part in the Republic Day parade for the first time. The Indian Air Force has inducted 11 of the 36 Rafale jets ordered by New Delhi at ₹59,000 crores. Seven more fighters have been handed over to India by Dassault but these are being used for training IAF pilots in France. Bhawana is currently based at an airbase in Bikaner and flies the MiG-21 Bison fighter plane.