close

News WrapGet Handpicked Stories from our editors directly to your mailbox

Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria takes over as Indian Air Force chief, ACM Birender Singh Dhanoa retires

ACM Rakesh Singh Bhadauria has the honour of having his initials RB on the trainer version of the Rafale fighters bought by India in recognition of his contribution in sealing the deal. He had flown the Rafale jet, which will soon join officially join the IAF as part of the Ambala-based 17 Squadron 'Golden Arrows', during Exercise Garuda 2019, the joint military drill with the French Air Force in July 2019.

Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria takes over as Indian Air Force chief, ACM Birender Singh Dhanoa retires

Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria (PVSM, AVSM, VM, ADC) took over as 26th Chief of the Indian Air Force (IAF) on Monday (September 30, 2019) following the retirement of Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa after 41 years of glorious service with the force. ACM Bhadauria was commissioned into the IAF fighter stream on June 15, 1980, and over the last 39 years has flown the different fighter and transport aircraft for over 4,250 hours. He was awarded the 'Sword of Honour' for standing first in the overall order of merit during his training.

Soon after taking over as the IAF chief, ACM Bhadauria laid wreath at National War Memorial and paid homage to the heroes of the Indian armed forces who laid down their lives in service of the nation.

ACM Bhadauria was the IAF Vice Chief and was scheduled to retire on Monday but the government named him as the next chief of the air force on September 19, 2019, giving him a two-year tenure. ACM Bhadauria, who has the honour of having his initials RB on the trainer version of the Rafale fighters bought by India in recognition of his contribution in sealing the deal, will retire on reaching the age of 62 years.

He had flown the Rafale jet, which will soon join officially join the IAF as part of the Ambala-based 17 Squadron 'Golden Arrows', during Exercise Garuda 2019, the joint military drill with the French Air Force in July 2019. ACM Dhanoa had commanded the 17 Squadron before it was number plated after its MiG-21 jets retired.

ACM Bhadauria is also an Experimental Test Pilot, a Cat 'A' Qualified Flying Instructor and a Pilot Attack Instructor. During his 39-year-long career with the IAF till now, ACM Bhadauria has commanded a Jaguar Squadron and a premier Air Force Station. He has also served as the Commanding Officer of Flight Test Squadron at Aircraft & System Testing Establishment, the Chief Test Pilot and Project Director of National Flight Test Centre on Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas project. The officer has a Masters in Defence Studies from Command and Staff College, Bangladesh.

Light Combat Aircraft Tejas also has a close association with ACM Bhadauria as the ace fighter pilot was closely involved in the initial prototype flight tests on the plane. He was also the Air Attache at Moscow, Assistant Chief of the Air Staff (Projects), Commandant of the National Defence Academy, Senior Air Staff Officer at HQ CAC, Deputy Chief of the Air Staff at Air HQ and Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Southern Air Command. 

Prior to assuming the present appointment, he was the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Training Command. ACM Dhanoa has been awarded several medals - Param Vishist Seva Medal, Ati Vishist Seva Medal and Vayu Sena Medal. He was appointed honorary Aide De Campe to the President of India in January 2016. The Air Marshal is married to Asha Bhadauria and the couple has a daughter and a son.