Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria PVSM AVSM VM ADC took over as the 26th Chief of the Air Staff at a ceremony held at Air Headquarters (Vayu Bhawan).
He succeeds Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa, who retired after 41 years of service in the IAF.
In his address to the IAF, Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria said “I feel honored and privileged to have been entrusted with the responsibility of leading one of the finest Air Forces in the world. I draw immense strength from exceptional achievements and remarkable leadership shown by my illustrious predecessors who built the Indian Air Force. I convey my sincere gratitude to Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa for his vision, untiring efforts and extraordinary leadership in bringing glory to the IAF and the Nation. The focus of the IAF shall be to rapidly operationalize newly inducted platforms and equipment as well as to ensure earliest and complete integration of these capabilities in IAF’s operational plans. There shall be an impetus on modernization through the acquisition of crucial technologies and critical capabilities with increased reliance on indigenous design and development. We shall proactively promote indigenization for the sustenance of all existing fleets and equipment.” He also laid stress on the importance of training as well as the safety of the aircraft and other warfighting equipment.
An alumnus of the prestigious National Defence Academy, he graduated from the Air Force Academy with the coveted ‘Sword of Honour’ and was commissioned in the fighter stream of IAF on 15 June 1980. During his nearly four-decade career, Bhadauria commanded a Jaguar squadron and a premier Air Force Station.
He devised a method for carrying bombing from the Jaguar aircraft using the Global Positioning System (GPS). This was especially relevant for the bombing role of Jaguar aircraft in Operation Safed Sagar during the Kargil war in 1999.
He has over 4270 hours of experience on twenty-seven types of fighters as well as transport aircraft and holds the unique distinction of being an Experimental Test Pilot, a Cat ‘A’ Qualified Flying Instructor and a Pilot Attack Instructor. He completed his Masters in Defence Studies from Command and Staff College, Bangladesh.
During his illustrious career, spanning almost four decades, the Air Chief Marshal has held several significant field and staff appointments which include command of a front line Jaguar Squadron, Command of a premier Air Force Station in South-Western sector, Commanding Officer of Flight Test Squadron at Aircraft & System Testing Establishment and Chief Test Pilot as well as Project Director of National Flight Test Centre on Tejas Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) project.
He was extensively involved in the initial prototype flight testing on the LCA. He has tenanted the appointments of Air Attaché Moscow, Assistant Chief of the Air Staff (Projects), Commandant National Defence Academy, Senior Air Staff Officer at Central Air Command, Deputy Chief of the Air Staff, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Southern Air Command and Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Training Command. Before taking over as the Chief of the Air Staff, he held the appointment of Vice Chief of the Air Staff.
He was the Air Attache at the Indian Embassy in Moscow, Assistant Chief of the Air Staff (Projects), Commandant of the National Defence Academy, Deputy Chief of the Air Staff at Air Head Quarter and Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Southern Air Command.
In recognition of his meritorious service, the Air Chief Marshal has been awarded the Vayu Sena Medal(VM) in 2002, Ati Vishist Seva Medal(AVSM) in 2013 and Param Vishist Seva Medal(PVSM) in 2018. He was appointed as the Honorary Air Force ADC to the Honorable President of India on 01 January 2019.
Bhadauria is one of the few Air Force pilots to fly a Rafale jet. In July, during Exercise Garuda between the Air Forces of India and France, Bhadauria had flown the Rafale aircraft.
He is married to Mrs. Asha Bhadauria and the couple is blessed with a daughter Sonali and a son Saurav.