The Indian government on Thursday appointed Air Marshal RKS Bhadauria as the new chief of the Indian Air Force. RKS Bhadauria, who is currently vice chief of air staff, will take over the post of chief of Air staff after his predecessor BS Dhanoa retires on September 30.
Air Marshal RKS Bhadauria, who flew the Tejas fighter jet as a young test pilot and was among the first IAF officers to fly the French-made Rafale fighter jet, was named the next Chief of Air Staff on Thursday and will take over from current Air Chief, BS Dhanoa, on September 30. A veteran fighter pilot with more than 4,250 hours of flying time across 26 different fighter jets and transport aircraft, Air Marshal Bhadauria, 60, will serve a two-year term as the head of the Indian Air Force (IAF).
Interestingly, Air Marshal RKS Bhadauria was also due to retire on the same day as BS Dhanoa. But now that he has been appointed as the chief of Air staff, he will serve a three-year term or till the age of 62, whichever is sooner. In this case, his term will be two years.
Air Marshal RKS Bhadauria, PVSM, AVSM, VM, ADC, is an alumnus of National Defence Academy, Pune. He has clocked over 4250 hours of flying and has experience of 26 different types of fighters.
Bhadauria served as Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief (AOC-in-C), Southern Air Command from March 2017 August 2018. He also served as Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief (AOC-in-C), Training Command from August 2018 and held the office till his elevation to the Vice Chief of the Air Staff in May this year.
During 36 years of his career, RKS Bhadauria has been awarded several medals: the Ati Vishisht Seva Medal, the Vayu Sena Medal and the Param Vishisht Seva Medal. He was appointed honorary Aide De Campe to the President of India in January this year.
RKS Bhadauria was among the first Indian Air Force officers to fly Rafale fighter jet and was also instrumental in finalising the deal with France for jets.
To mark his contribution to the deal, the first Rafale (a two-seater variant) carried the designation RB-008 on its tail.
RB-008 was also the first of the Indian Air Force’s Rafale jets to take to the skies; it made its maiden flight in October 2018. Interestingly, RB-008 will be the last of the 36 Rafales to be handed over to India.
The Air Marshal was inducted into the fighter stream of the Air Force in June 1980; he graduated from the National Defence Academy as the winner of the coveted ‘Sword of Honour’ – an award given to the top-ranking cadet across the country.
He also holds the unique distinction of being an Experimental Test Pilot, a Cat ‘A’ Qualified Flying Instructor and a Pilot Attack Instructor, according to his profile on the IAF website.
Air Marshal Bhadauria, who is married to Asha Bhadauria and has two children, is a highly-decorated officer and has been awarded distinguished service and gallantry awards like the Param Vishisht Seva Medal, the Ati Vishisht Seva Medal and the Vayu Sena Medal.