Air Marshals Balakrishnan Suresh, Raghunath Nambiar, Rakesh Bhadauria & Rajesh Kumar

The Indian Air Force is facing the depleting fighter squadron strength and even the new Rafale jets won't be sufficient to improve that

The Narendra Modi government is expected to name the new Indian Air Force (IAF) chief very soon. While the government has already appointed new cabinet secretary and defence secretary, the next IAF chief's appointment is still pending. The successor of current IAF chief BS Dhanoa, who is set to retire on September 30, will be decided by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC), headed by the prime minister. Since PM Modi has returned from his three-nation tour, the decision is expected in the next few days.

Who Are In The Race of New IAF Chief?

Usually, the senior-most Indian Air Force officer of the senior-most batch is chosen as the Chief of the Air Staff. The appointment, however, is approved by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet and the appointee's abilities and confidence with the prime minister are also considered. As far as the successor of BS Dhanoa is concerned, Air Marshals B Suresh and Raghunath Nambiar are the two senior officers in contention.

Air Marshal B Suresh is the chief of Southern Air Command and Air Marshal R Nambiar is the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Western Air Command and looks after all the aerial operations along the borders with Pakistan. While the Southern Air Command chief is the senior most officer after BS Dhanoa, Nambiar is equally competent and their elevation will depend on decision of the Appointments Committee.

According to reports, another name, Air Marshal Rakesh Bhadauria, who is the current Vice Chief of Air Staff, is also in the race. Although Bhadauria's name was not in the file first sent to the PMO. He was one of the key negotiators of the Rafale fighter aircraft deal with the Government of France and Dassault Aviation, the firm responsible for manufacturing the fighter jet.