Air Marshal VR Chaudhari will be the new Chief of Indian Air Force succeeding Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria, the Union Defence Ministry said on Tuesday 21 September 2021. Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria, the current Chief of Air Staff, is set to retire from service on September 30.
In a statement, the Defence Ministry said, “Government of India has decided to appoint Air Marshal VR Chaudhari, presently Vice Chief of Air Staff as the next Chief of Air Staff. Current Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria retires from Service on 30th Sep 2021.” Air Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari has held command, staff and instructional appointments at various levels and took over as Vice Chief of Air Staff on July 1.
You may not know that the man who is going to be at the helm of the mighty Indian Air Force has a Hyderabad connection, one that he has been maintaining for 42 years. Air Marshal VR Chaudhari, who has been appointed as the next Chief of Air Staff, is an alumni of the BHEL Higher Secondary School, Ramachandrapuram and grew up on the BHEL campus, with his parents still residing in the city. And as one from their alma mater gets ready to head the IAF, the teachers and alumni of the school are celebrating, with his friends here planning to felicitate his parents soon. He spent his growing years and youth in the city as a student of the BHEL Higher Secondary School Ramachandrapuram.
After completing his schooling in 1979, Air Marshal Chaudhari went on to join the National Defence Academy (NDA) at Khadakwasla, Pune and was commissioned into the fighter stream of the IAF on December 29, 1982. According to the alumni of the school, Air Marshal Chaudhari’s father was an employee of BHEL while his mother worked as a teacher. Both parents are still staying in Hyderabad. His teachers and classmates remember him as a studious all-rounder participating in sports and all activities in the school.
Before becoming Vice Chief of the IAF, he was serving as commander-in-chief of the Western Air Command (WAC) that looks after the security of Indian air space in the sensitive Ladakh sector as well as various other parts of north India. In a distinguished career spanning nearly 38 years, the officer has flown a wide variety of fighter and trainer aircraft in the inventory of IAF. He has a flying experience of more than 3,800 hours, including operational flying on MiG-21, MiG-23 MF, MiG 29 and Su-30 MKI fighter jets.
Apart from various operational issues, Air Marshal Chaudhari will have to also address matters related to the ambitious theaterisation model of the armed forces. The theatre commands are being planned to integrate the capabilities of the three services and to ensure optimal utilisation of their resources. The theatre commands are being set up under a larger mandate of ensuring synergy among the three service chiefs to deal with future security challenges.