The beloved ‘Chota Sir’ of Indian aeronautical community to become the next Chief of Indian Air Force!

Indian Air force gets new chief! Air Marshal RKS Bhadauria, man who closed Rafale deal, set to take over as chief of Air staff.

Air Marshal RKS Bhadauria is considered to be one of the finest pilots in the IAF. He has flown more than 27 types of fighter and transport aircraft so far, including the much talked French Rafale.

The present Vice Chief of the Indian Air Force (IAF) Air Marshal RKS Bhadauria will take over as the new chief next month after the retirement of Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa, on 30th September 2019. The officer, is affectionately called ‘Chota sir’ in air force circles.

He is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy, he was commissioned into the fighter stream of the IAF in June 1980 and won the coveted ‘Sword of Honour’ for standing first in the overall order of merit.

He has held various command, staff and instructional appointments at different levels, including the present one as Vice Chief of Air Staff.

There was elation in India’s aeronautical community when he took over as the Vice-Chief of the IAF.

Shyam Chetty, a former director at National Aerospace Laboratories had said Bhaduaria is very  strong supporter of indeginous programmes.

Bhadauria is familiar and popular figure at the Aeronautical complex with a reputation for taking tough decisions.

During his nearly four decades career, Bhadauria commanded a Jaguar squadron and a premier Air Force Station. He was also the Chief Test Pilot and Project Director of the National Flight Test Centre on Light Combat Aircraft project. He was extensively involved in the initial prototype flight tests on the LCA Tejas.

Along the way, he has picked up every single badge of honour meant for the very best of fighter pilots.

He has 4250 hours of experience in flying 26 types of fighter and cargo aircraft.

He is a certified flying instructor, an attack instructor of CAT ‘A’ category along with being an test pilot.

Bhadauria is the officer who was leading India at the negotiating table for the French Rafale fighter combat aircraft.

It was under his watch complex negotiations were concluded and significant hurdles overcome.

He had an experience in flying the Rafale aircraft during the recently concluded Ex Garuda in which he thoroughly tested the technical aspect of the French fighter.

He has held various top positions in the IAF and was also the Commandant of the National Defense Academy, besides the Deputy Chief of Air Staff at Air Force Headquarters at the Indian Embassy in Moscow.

Air Marshal RKS Bhadauria, had also visited the IAF contingent during Ex Garuda in France and also flown in the French Rafale in the final mission and tested out its technical capabilities.

According to him once the Rafale is inducted in IAF, together with the Russian Su-30MKI they will be a deadly combination and will ensure that Pakistan will never be able to repeat the Pulwama attack on India.

Traditionally, service chiefs have been appointed on the basis of seniority – the officer who is senior-most officer on the day a chief retires is named his successor.

While seniority is usually followed when a new service chief is named, there have been instances when the government has overlooked it. For instance, when General Bipin Rawat was named army chief in December 2016, the National Democratic Alliance government superseded two lieutenant generals who were senior to Rawat. Also Admiral Karambir Singh superseded a senior officer to become chief on May 31, 2016.

When Late Manohar Parrikar was defence minister, he had defended the government’s decision to name Rawat army chief, arguing that if seniority was the only criterion guiding the government in its choice, then the computer could have selected a service chief on the basis of date of birth and there was no need to follow a rigourous procedure spanning months, analyse Intelligence Bureau reports of candidates or seek the approval of the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet.

Rakesh Bhadauria was intrumental in shifting ‘Flying Daggers’ squadron to Sulfur and setting up of all the attedents infrastructure there.

He is known for leading by example, he was known to fly with cadets of every single school, from Dundigal to Bidar and Hakimpet to Yelahanka.

No doubt he is the most qualified to hold the new position. He is the man whose initials will be painted as the tail number of the Indian Air Force’s first Rafale Fighter.

Dr Sindhu Prashanth