Flight Lieutenant Bhawana Kanth is set to become the first woman combat pilot to participate in the flypast during the Republic Day parade. In 2016, she was among the first women, besides Mohana Singh and Avani Chaturvedi, to be selected for the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) fighter stream. All three women joined their respective squadrons after two years of training.

“Marking the dawn of empowered women-led #NewIndia Flt Lt Bhawana Kanth is set to become the first woman fighter pilot to take part in the Republic Day parade. Indeed a proud moment for the entire country!” Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said in a tweet.

In 2019, Kanth created history as for the first time that a woman had qualified for combat missions on a fighter jet. She carried out combat missions on MiG-21 Bison aircraft as part of her training.

In this year’s Republic Day flypast, the IAF will also showcase India’s latest fighter jet Rafale. It has been imported from France’s Dassault Aviation, the same company which manufactured the Mirage 2000 for India in the past. However, the Republic Day parade will be of a shorter route this year.

Amid the coronavirus pandemic, only 25,000 spectators will be allowed to watch the parade in comparison to 1,15,000 last year. No children below the age of 15 years will be allowed entry to the parade ground.

The distance of the parade has been reduced from 8.2 km to 3.3 km. Instead of concluding at the Red Fort, this year’s parade will be completed from Vijay Chowk to the National Stadium.