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Protection of India's sovereignty, integrity to be ensured at any cost: New IAF Chief


Air Chief Marshal VR Chaudhary takes over as the 27th Chief of the Air Staff at Air HQ (Vayu Bhavan). Photo: Indian Air Force website

NEW DELHI (PTI): After taking charge as the 27th Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari has said that enhancing the IAF's operational capability through integration of newly inducted platforms and weapons with existing assets would be a priority for him.

In a brief address to IAF personnel on thursday, Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari said he has absolute faith and confidence in their ability to accomplish all assigned tasks with resolute dedication while maintaining the force's operational capability at "an all-time high".

"Protection of our nation's sovereignty and integrity is to be ensured at any cost," he said.

Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari succeeded Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria at the top post following the latter's retirement.

Shortly after taking the reins of the IAF, Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari called on Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.

An alumnus of the National Defence Academy, Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari was commissioned into the fighter stream of the IAF on December 29, 1982. 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.

In a distinguished career spanning nearly 38 years, he has held many significant command and staff appointments including commanding a MiG-29 squadron, two air force stations and Western Air Command.

A Cat 'A' qualified flying instructor, Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari has served as an instructor at flying training establishments. He was a member of the Suryakiran Aerobatic display team.

In his address, Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari said that enhancement of operational capability through integration of newly inducted platforms, weapons and equipment with existing assets and dovetailing the same in the concepts of operations would remain a priority area for him.

He also spoke on the acquisition of new technology, promotion of indigenisation and innovation, strengthening of cyber security and the need for adopting new training methods to deal with future security challenges.

The Chief of Air Staff also urged the IAF personnel to "always uphold the ethos and credo of the 'Air Warrior' and strive to be an asset" to force in any role tasked for.

Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari was serving as Vice Chief of the Air Staff before assuming the new role.

Before becoming Vice Chief of the IAF, he was serving as commander-in-chief of the IAF's 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 Chief of Air Staff is a recipient of Param Vishisht Seva Medal (PVSM), Ati Vishisht Seva Medal (AVSM) and Vayu Sena Medal (VM).

Earlier in the day, Air Chief Marshal Bhadauria laid a wreath at the National War Memorial after which he arrived at Air headquarters for a traditional 'walk through' before he handed over the charge.

He was accorded a ceremonial Guard of Honour prior to his "drive out" and send off.

Apart from various operational issues, Air Chief 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.

There has been a growing perception that the Indian Air Force has some reservations about the theaterisation programme.

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