Current vice chief of Air Staff ,VR Chaudhari appointed as IAF's next Chief

22nd Sep,2021

Current vice chief of Air Staff ,VR Chaudhari appointed as IAF's next Chief

Air Marshal VR Chaudhari ,Vice Chief of the Indian Air Force has been appointed the next IAF chief. The present Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria is set to retire on September 30.

Defence Ministry spokesman A Bharat Bhushan Babu tweeted that Government has decided to designate Air Marshal V R Chaudhari, PVSM, AVSM, VM currently Vice Chief of Air Staff as the next Chief of Air Staff.

Chaudhari officiated 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 broad variety of fighter and trainer aircraft, including missions flown during Operation Meghdoot, the Air Force’s help to capture Siachen glacier in 1980s, and Operation Safed Sagar (the support provided by the IAF during the Kargil conflict in 1999).

A graduate 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 many 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).

Before this, 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 answerable 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 entangled in an over 16-month-long standoff since May 2020.

Chaudhari is a awardee 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 term. Commissioned in the fighter stream of the Air Force in June 1980, Bhadauria had received 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 served as a chief test pilot for the indigenously designed Light Combat Aircraft Tejas. He led 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.