The government on Tuesday announced that Air Marshal Vivek Chaudhari will take over as the next chief of the Indian Air Force after Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria retires on September 30. Chaudhari is currently serving as the IAF’s vice chief.
The government has followed the seniority principle in appointing Chaudhari to the top job. He will be the senior-most IAF officer the day Bhadauria retires.
An experienced pilot, Chaudhari has logged more than 3,800 hours of flying on a variety of fighter planes such as MiG-21, Mig-29 and Sukhoi-30. He has commanded important fighter bases in his military career including one in Kashmir. He also flew several air defence missions during the 1999 Kargil war with Pakistan.
Chaudhari was commissioned into air force’s fighter stream in December 1982. Before taking over as the IAF’s vice chief, he commanded the Western Air Command at a time when the IAF was inducting its new Rafale fighter jets at Ambala and operationalising them at the earliest was a top priority amid the border row with China.
He earlier held the appointment of IAF deputy chief at the Air Headquarters in Delhi and steered a raft of key procurements. He was closely associated with the Rafale programme as the deputy chief — he was the head of the bilateral high-level group monitoring the progress of the fighter jet project in France.