Air Marshal Arup Raha, an experienced MiG-29 pilot, will be the next chief of the Indian Air Force (IAF), the government announced on Tuesday.
Inducted into the IAF on December 14, 1974, in the fighter stream of the flying branch, Raha, currently the IAF vice chief, will take over from the incumbent N A K Brown after he retires on December 31 this year.
The new chief will be at the helm of affairs for three years, during which the IAF may procure 126 fighter jets from France, in what is perhaps one of India’s biggest military deals.
Before taking over responsibilities at the IAF headquarters, Raha commanded the Central Air Command in Allahabad and Western Air Command in Delhi. He is one of the honorary aides-de-camp to the supreme commander and commodore commandant of the 47 Squadron or the Black Archer.
An ardent flyer with 3,400 hours of flying experience, Raha was the station commander of the air force station in Bhatinda during Operation Parakram. He was also part of the directing staff at the Flying Instructors School in Tambaram and tactics and combat development establishments of the IAF.
Now, besides maintaining an optimal level of squadron strength, the IAF also has to push for the purchase of a series of helicopters, mid-air refuellers and upgrade the air fields for support operations near the Sino-Indian border. Additionally, the IAF will have a crucial supporting role in backing up the new mountain strike corps, which is in the process of being established.