Air Marshal VR Chaudhari on Thursday assumed office as the new chief of the Indian Air Force (IAF). The Defence Ministry had on September 21 named Chaudhari, who was the Vice Chief of Air Staff, as the next IAF chief. The current Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria, retired from service on September 30.

Air Marshal V R Chaudhari, was commissioned into the Fighter stream of Indian Air Force on December 28, 1982 and has held various Command, Staff and Instructional appointments at various levels, including the present one as Vice Chief of Air Staff, a statement from the ministry had said earlier.

The officer is decorated with PVSM (Param Vishisht Seva Medal), AVSM (Param Vishisht Seva Medal) and (Vayu Medal) VM.

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.

The officer oversaw various operational deployments of the Indian Air Force in frontline bases in the backdrop of the eastern Ladakh border standoff with China last year. Following the escalation in tension in eastern Ladakh in mid-June last year, the IAF deployed almost all its frontline fighter jets like Sukhoi 30MKI, Jaguar and Mirage-2000 aircraft in the key air bases in eastern Ladakh and elsewhere along the Line of Actual Control. After their induction, Rafale jets too carried out sorties in various forward areas.

He has a flying experience of more than 3,800 hours, including operational flying on MiG-21, MiG-23 MF, MiG-29 and Su-30MKI fighter jets. He was the commanding officer of a frontline fighter squadron and has also commanded a frontline fighter base.

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. Chief of Defence Staff Gen Bipin Rawat has been focusing on bringing convergence among the three services and restructuring military commands to effectively deal with future security challenges.