Vice chief of air staff Air Marshal RKS Bhadauria will be the next Chief of Air Staff, the Defence Ministry has announced. Air Marshal RKS Bhadauria, who had led the tricky Rafale jet negotiations with France, will take over when Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa retires on September 30.
"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," Defence Ministry's Principal Spokesperson said on Twitter.
Air Marshal Bhadauria, the senior most officer in the Air Force after Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa, was to retire on September 30, the same day as the Air Chief. An Air Force official told PTI in this case, the incumbent chief may demit office in the forenoon, paving way for Air Marshal Bhadauria to take charge in the noon.
The Air Marshal was commissioned into the fighter stream of the Air Force in 1980 and won the coveted 'Sword of Honour' for standing first in the overall order of merit.
Air Marshal Bhadauria has over 4,250 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, says his profile on the Indian Air Force website.
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 & 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, the Air Force website adds.
When Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa retires, Army Chief General Bipin Rawat, who would then be the senior most service chief, will take over as Chairman Chiefs of Staff Committee.
With inputs from PTI