Vice Chief of the Indian Air Force Air Marshal VR Chaudhari has been appointed the next IAF chief. The current Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria is set to retire on September 30.
Informing about the appointment, Defence Ministry spokesman A Bharat Bhushan Babu tweeted: ‘Government has decided to appoint Air Marshal V R Chaudhari, PVSM, AVSM, VM presently Vice Chief of Air Staff as the next Chief of Air Staff.
Chaudhari had taken over as the vice chief on July 1 this year, after Air Marshal HS Arora retired. Commissioned in the fighter stream of the IAF in December 1982, he has a flying experience of more than 3,800 hours on a wide variety of fighter and trainer aircraft, including missions flown during Operation Meghdoot, the Air Force’s support to capture Siachen glacier in 1980s, and Operation Safed Sagar (the support provided by the IAF during the Kargil conflict in 1999). An alumnus of the National Defence Academy and Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, Chaudhari has commanded a frontline fighter squadron and a fighter base during his career. He has also held various other positions including the Deputy Commandant, Air Force Academy; Assistant Chief of Air Staff Operations (Air Defence) and Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Personnel Officers).
Earlier, he had served as the Deputy Chief of the Air Staff at Air HQ and Senior Air Staff Officer at the Eastern Air Command. Prior to his taking over as the vice chief in July, Chaudhari served as the commander-in-chief of the Western Air Command – the largest air command of the IAF responsible for parts of both the borders with Pakistan and China. The Western Air Command has the responsibility of protecting Ladakh as well, where India and China have been involved in an over 16 month-long standoff since May 2020. Chaudhari is a recipient of the Param Vishisht Seva Medal, Ati Vishisht Seva Medal and the Vayu Sena Medals.
Bhadauria, had taken over from BS Dhanoa in September 2019. Incidentally, Bhadauria was set to retire that day, but his appointment as the chief had given him a two-year tenure. Commissioned in the fighter stream of the Air Force in June 1980, Bhadauria had won the Sword of Honour as he had stood at the top in the overall order of merit.
With more than 4,250 hours of flying experience on 26 types of fighters and transport aircraft, Air Marshal Bhadauria has been a chief test pilot for the indigenously designed Light Combat Aircraft Tejas. He headed the Contract Negotiating Committee for the Rafale jets deal and was later among the first pilots of the Indian Air Force to fly the Rafale jets.