Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria takes over as Air Chief with indigenisation resolve

IAF top hierarchy gets a reboot at a time when its stands on operational and equipping crossroads

September 30, 2019 By Vishal Thapar Photo(s): By : Indian Air Force
Outgoing IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa handing over charge to Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria with the top brass lined up behind them at Air Headquarters in New Delhi on September 30

IAF re-shuffle

  • Air Marshal HS Arora appointed Vice-Chief
  • Air Marshal B Suresh to head Western Command from October 31
  • Air Marshal SK Ghotia to head South-Western Command
  • Air Marshal Amit Tiwari to head Southern Command

There will be increased reliance on indigenisation in acquiring crucial technologies and critical capabilities for the future, Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria said on taking over as the 26th Chief of the Indian Air Force on September 30. He shall have a tenure of two years as the successor to Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa, who retired after 41 years of distinguished military service.

Bhadauria has been closely associated with indigenisation programmes, particularly the development of the Light Combat Aircraft Tejas and is highly regarded in India's aeronautical complex.

SP's Aviation has published two detailed profiles of Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria's accomplished career:

http://www.sps-aviation.com/news/?id=101&catId=1&h=Rafale-negotiator-Air-Marshal-Bhadauria-named-next-IAF-Chief

http://www.sps-aviation.com/story/?id=2542&h=IAF-s-Points-person-for-Key-Procurements-is-the-New-Vice-Chief-of-Air-Staff

"There shall be impetus on modernisation through acquisition of crucial technologies and critical capabilities with increased reliance on indigenous design and development. We shall proactively promote indigenisation for sustenance of all existing fleets and equipment," Bhadauria said in his address to the IAF after taking over as its Chief.

"There shall be impetus on modernisation through acquisition of crucial technologies and critical capabilities with increased reliance on indigenous design and development. We shall proactively promote indigenisation for sustenance of all existing fleets and equipment," Bhadauria said in his address to the IAF after taking over as its Chief

Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria will provide leadership to the IAF at a time when air power is expected to be used as the principal instrument of cross-border punitive action. Besides coping with operational challenges, he will also be expected to leverage his unique experience in military procurements to give a big push to several long-pending programmes. Concepts and plans for building futuristic platforms will also be finalised during his tenure.

IN THE SADDLE: Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria will have a two-year tenure as Chief of Air Staff

"The focus of the IAF shall be to rapidly operationalise newly inducted platforms and equipment as well as to ensure earliest and complete integration of these capabilities in IAF’s operational plans," the new Air Chief said.

He also laid stress on the importance of training as well the safety of the aircraft and other war fighting equipment. This is significant in the backdrop of a sharp spike in the number of IAF crashes in 2019.

"The focus of the IAF shall be to rapidly operationalise newly inducted platforms and equipment as well as to ensure earliest and complete integration of these capabilities in IAF’s operational plans," the new Air Chief said

His appointment is notable because he was scheduled to retire on September 30 in the 3-star rank of Air Marshal. There is a precedent for this decision in Air Chief Marshal NC Suri's appointment as Chief of Air Staff in similar circumstances in 1991. Bhadauria gets two more years in service on picking up four-star rank on what could have been his day of retirement.

In a related development, Air Marshal HS Arora has been appointed Vice-Chief of Air Staff. Air Marshals who were in contention along with Bhadauria for selection as Chief of Air Staff have been given key positions.

The IAF's points-person in several key acquisition programmes, Bhadauria shot to the limelight for negotiating the 7.87 Billion Euro Rafale fighter aircraft deal during his tenure as the Deputy Chief of Air Staff in 2016.

In a related development, Air Marshal HS Arora has been appointed Vice-Chief of Air Staff. Air Marshals who were in contention along with Bhadauria for selection as Chief of Air Staff have been given key positions

His tenures as Air Attache in Russia and Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Projects) have given him extensive, hands-on experience in handling big ticket procurement programmes.

The sword of honour awardee for topping the June 1980 batch of the IAF, Bhadauria commanded a Jaguar squadron and a premier airbase. He is an experimental test pilot and a Category A Qualified Flying Instructor, a pilot attack instructor, he was also the commanding officer of the Aircraft & Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE) - India's test pilot pool.

In the course of his very distinguished career, the new Chief of Air Staff has also headed the National Flight Test Centre and was the chief experimental test pilot at the Aeronautical Development Agency.

As an Air Marshal, Bhadauria served as the Commandant of the National Defence Academy and the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Southern and Training Commands before his appointment as the Vice-Chief of Air Staff in May 2019.