Rafale negotiator RKS Bhadauria is next IAF chief

Rafale negotiator RKS Bhadauria is next IAF chief

RKS Bhaduria

The Centre on Thursday appointed Air Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria as the next Chief of the Air Staff, who will take over from the Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa on September 30.

Commissioned in the fighter flying branch of the Indian Air Force in June 1980, the decorated officer is currently the Vice Chief of the Air Staff.

One of the three senior-most IAF officers who were in the race to become the next IAF chief, Bhadauria was also due to retire on September 30 along with Dhanoa. The elevation to the post of the Chief of Air Staff would now give him two extra years in service.

The other two front runners were Air Marshal R Nambiar, a Kargil veteran and the AOC-in-C of the Western Air Command, and Air Marshal B Suresh, the AOC-in-C of the Southern Air Command. Both will retire within months.

The government chose Bhadauria, who has over 4,250 hours of experience on flying 26 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.

He had commanded a Jaguar squadron and was the project director with the National Flight Test Centre, Bengaluru on the LCA Tejas Project. He was extensively involved in the initial prototype flight tests on the LCA.

Before becoming the Vice Chief, he was also the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Training Command, Bengaluru.

Bhadauria played a pivotal role in India's negotiation with France to buy 36 Rafale fighter jets because of which some of the Rafale jets including the first one (a twin-seater trainer) that India will receive next month will bear “RB” initials on its tail as a recognition.

The appointment of the new IAF chief comes three weeks ahead of the Air Force Day that falls on October 8.

With Bhadauria's elevation, the stage is now set for the Army Chief Gen Bipin Rawat to be the next Chairman, Chief of Staff Committee taking over the baton from Dhanoa. Rawat, however, will have a very short as the Chairman, COSC as he is due to retire on December 31.

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