India names Bhadauria as the next Air Force chief

File Photo: Air Marshal RKS Bhadauria

New Delhi: India today named Air Marshal R. K. S. Bhadauria to take over the responsibility of heading its Air Force after the present chief retires on Sep. 30.

“(The) government has decided to appoint Air Marshal RKS Bhadauria, PVSM, AVSM, VM, ADC, presently Vice Chief of Air Staff as the next Chief of the Air Staff after the retirement of Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa, PVSM, AVSM, YSM, VM, ADC on 30th September 2019,” a Ministry of Defence statement said.

Air Marshal RKS Bhadauria was commissioned into the Fighter Stream of the Indian Air Force in June 1980, and has held various Command, Staff and Instructional appointments at various levels including the present one as Vice Chief of Air Staff, to which he was appointed only in May this year.

Bhadauria was to retire from service on the same day as Dhanoa on September 30 and was not considered to be a contender for the top post. His name was not part of the shortlisted officers initially sent to the Prime Minister’s Office for possible appointment as the Air Chief, with Southern Air Commander Air Marshal Balakrishnan Suresh and Western Air Commander Air Marshal Raghunath Nambiar being considered as the two main contenders.

While the chiefs of the armed forces retire at the age of 62 or after completing three years at the helm, Air Marshals and equivalents in the other two services retire at the age of 60.

This sort of an appointment of an Air Marshal to the top post from the day he retires is not new. Air Chief Marshal N. C. Suri took over as IAF chief on the day he was to retire on July 31, 1991.

The Air Marshal is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy. He was commissioned in the fighter stream of IAF on 15 Jun 1980 and won the coveted ‘Sword of Honour’ for standing first in the overall order of merit. He has over 4250 hours of experience on twenty six types of fighters and transport aircraft with the unique distinction of being an Experimental Test Pilot, a Cat ‘A’ Qualified Flying Instructor and a Pilot Attack Instructor. He completed his Masters in Defence Studies from Command and Staff College, Bangladesh.

The Air Marshal has held a number of important appointments, which include, Command of a Jaguar Squadron and a premier Air Force Station, Commanding Officer of Flight Test Squadron at Aircraft and System Testing Establishment, Chief Test Pilot and Project Director of National Flight Test Centre on Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) project. He was extensively involved in the initial prototype flight tests on the LCA.

File Photo: Air Marshal Bhadauria inspecting a guard of honour.

Air Marshal Bhadauria was also the Air Attache at the Indian embassy in Moscow, Assistant Chief of the Air Staff (Projects), Commandant of the National Defence Academy, Senior Air Staff Officer at Headquarters of Central Air Command, Deputy Chief of the Air Staff at Air Headquarters and Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Southern Air Command. Prior to assuming the present appointment as Vice Chief of Air Staff, he was the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Training Command.

This Air Officer is decorated with Param Vishist Seva Medal, Ati Vishist Seva Medal, Vayu Medal and he is one of the Aid-De-Camps to the Supreme Commander, the President of India.

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