Women power reigned supreme this Republic Day as Flight Lieutenant Bhawana Kanth and Captain Preeti Choudhary made it to the annual Republic Day parade. Flight Lieutenant Kanth, who became one of the first three women fighter pilots in 2016, is the first woman IAF pilot to take part in the annual Republic Day parade. She featured in IAF's tableau comprising light combat aircraft, a light combat helicopter and a Sukhoi fighter jet loaded with made-in-India missiles. This tableau was aimed at showcasing the IAF's domestic manufacturing capabilities.
Flight Lieutenant Kanth, who hails from Begusarai in Bihar, currently flies MiG-21 Bison fighter plane and is posted with the Indian Air Force's Cobras squadron. Flight Lieutenant Kanth was awarded the Nari Shakti Puruskar in 2020 by President Ram Nath Kovind.
The Indian Army scripted history for the second time in a row with Captain Preeti Choudhary from Army Air Defence commanding the upgraded Schilika anti-aircraft weapon system. She told news agency ANI, "Upgraded Schilika to roll down Rajpath for first time. It can track, shoot enemy targets upto 2km on ground, 2.5km in air. I received the opportunity as it's my regiment's equipment, not due to gender."
Captain Preeti Choudhary is the only woman contingent commander from Army in this year's Republic Day parade. A former NCC Air Squadon cadet from Chandigarh, Captain Choudhary was awarded the coveted Sword of Honour in 2018 on passing out from the Officers Training Academy in Chennai.
This is the second time Choudhary has taken part in the Republic Day parade, the first time being as an NCC cadet in 2016. She was then acknowledged as the second best air wing cadet across the country.