Government 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 September 30, 2021, the defence ministry said.
Air Marshal Chaudhari was commissioned into the fighter stream of the Air Force on December 29, 1982, and has a flying experience of more than 3800 hrs on a wide variety of fighter and trainer aircraft. The senior officer has held a series of important assignments in the past few years, including as the Western Air Command chief as Assistant Chief of Air Staff Operations (Air Defence).
He has held various field positions including commanding a Mig-29 Squadron, commanding a forward base, and later commanding Air Force Station Pune. He has served as an instructor at DSSC Wellington as well as DSCSC at Lusaka, Zambia. He has held the position of chief operations officer at Air Force Station Srinagar. His other appointments include Deputy Commandant at Dundigal Air Force Academy, and Assistant Chief of Air Staff Operations (Air Defence). “The Air Officer has been an Air Force Examiner on several types of fighter and trainer aircraft,” officials said.
He served as Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Personnel Officers) and later as Deputy Chief of Air Staff at air headquarters, VayuSena Bhawan in New Delhi. He also served as Senior Air Staff Officer at Eastern Air Command from October 2019 to July 2020.
Air Marshal Chaudhari will have to navigate his way through in coming months on the integrated theatre command plan that is currently underway, where differences have cropped up on the new structure being envisaged. The theaterisation plan has been put off by two to three years but internal discussions on the issue are underway.
On the procurement side, with the Light Combat Aircraft deal and the C 295 transport aircraft contract finalised, the air force is now set to concentrate on the plan to procure 114 fighter aircraft under a Make in India initiative.
The air force is likely to issue a competition for the new fighter jets that would be made in India with foreign assistance. The main contenders for the mega contract will be Dassault, Boeing, Saab, Lockheed Martin and Russian aircraft companies.
During his career, Chaudhari has been awarded the Vayu Sena Medal in 2004, the Ati Vishisht Seva Medal in 2015 and the Param Vishisht Seva Medal in 2021 for his service.