Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari who was in control of the Ladakh sector during the zenith of the conflict with China, took over as the Chief of Air Staff from Air Chief Marshal Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria on Thursday.
Bhadauria hanged up the boots after 42 years of excellent service and was the draughtsman of two mega fighter aircraft agreements including 36 Rafales and 83 Mark1A indigenous Tejas jets.
Chaudhari, who has served in numerous crucial capacities at both field formations and air headquarters, would be assuming control of the force at a time when the nation is still in a standoff situation at the borders with China and friction in the area is at the top due to the situation in Afghanistan.
Chaudhari is also credited for the operationalization of modern air defense systems like the S-400 from Russia, which are going to be introduced asap.
He is also behind the modernization of the fighter aircraft fleet as more indigenous and foreign-origin fighter aircraft are planned to be inducted shortly.
Chaudhari, whose son is a Rafale fighter aircraft pilot, also ensured the smooth induction of the Rafales into the Indian Air Force as the Ambala airbase was under him as Western Air Commander.
A part of the fighter stream of the IAF in December 1982, he has an experience of flying for more than 3,800 hours on a vast range of fighter and trainer aircraft, including missions operational during Operation Meghdoot, the Air Force`s support to capture Siachen glacier in the 1980s, and Operation Safed Sagar (the support provided by the IAF during the Kargil conflict in 1999).
An alumnus of the National Defence Academy and Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, Chaudhari has presided over a frontline fighter squadron and a fighter base during his career. He has also held various other positions including the Deputy Commandant, Air Force Academy; Assistant Chief of Air Staff Operations (Air Defence), and Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Personnel Officers).