New Delhi: A Rafale trainer aircraft that India is to receive from France soon has the initials “RB" on its tail. And this is in recognition of the role incoming Indian Air Force chief RKS Bhadauria played as deputy chief in India's negotiations with France to clinch the deal to buy the 36 Rafale fighter jets.

Bhadauria was also among the first Indian Air Force officers to fly Rafale fighter jet. And as the air force chief, Bhadauria will have the opportunity to induct the aircraft into the Indian Air Force fleet when the jets finally come to India sometime early next year.

The appointment of the new IAF chief — announced by the defence ministry on Thursday — comes three weeks ahead of the Air Force Day that falls on 8 October.

Air Marshal Bhadauria, currently vice chief of the Indian Air Force, was set to retire on 30 September as was his chief Birender Singh Dhanoa. But with his appointment as Dhanoa’s successor, he will now serve a two-year term.

Bhadauria was one of the several contenders for the post. The others in the running were Air Marshal R Nambiar, the Air Office Commanding-in-Chief of the crucial Western Air Command who is a veteran of the 1999 Kargil war. A third officer in contention was Air Marshal HS Arora, heading the Gandhinagar-based South Western Command.

Bhadauria won the coveted ‘Sword of Honour’ in the National Defence Academy and was commissioned in the fighter pilot stream of the IAF in June 1980. He has over 4,250 hours of experience in flying 26 types of fighters and transport aircraft. He also has 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 Indian Air Force website.

The Air Marshal has held a number of appointments, which include the command of a Jaguar Squadron and a premier Air Force Station, Commanding Officer of Flight Test Squadron at Aircraft and System Testing Establishment, Chief Test Pilot and Project Director of National Flight Test Centre on Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) project. He was extensively involved in the initial prototype flight tests on the LCA, the Air Force website adds. He was also posted as India’s air attaché to Moscow.

Seen as a low key officer, he is the recipient of 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.