New Delhi: Air Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria, the current Vice Chief of the Indian Air Force, will be next Chief of Air Staff, said principal spokesperson of the Ministry of Defence on Thursday. Air Marshal Bhadauria (PVSM, AVSM, VM, ADC) will become the 26th IAF Chief after taking over from the incumbent top gun Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa who retires on September 30, 2019.
Air Marshal Bhadauria was also scheduled to retire on September 30 but his elevation means he will lead the IAF for two years. The office will retire on reaching the age of 62 years. The senior most officer in the IAF after Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa, Air Marshal 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.
The officer was in France in July for Exercise Garuda 2019 and had flown the Rafale. He later on warned India's adversaries to not mess with the IAF as it would be soon flying two of the most potent combat aircraft - Rafales and Sukhoi Su-30MKIs.
Bhadauria was commissioned in the fighter stream of IAF on June 15, 1980, and won the coveted 'Sword of Honour' for standing first in the overall order of merit. With over 4,250 hours of experience on 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, Air Marshal Bhadauria has held a number of important appointments.
He has commanded a Jaguar Squadron and a premier Air Force Station, has been 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. He has a Masters in Defence Studies from Command and Staff College, Bangladesh.
He was extensively involved in the initial prototype flight tests on the LCA. Air Marshal Bhadauria was also the Air Attache, at EoI 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. During his 39 years of career, he 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.