New Delhi: Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari, a fighter pilot, took command of the Indian Air Force as its 27th chief at a ceremony at Air Headquarters (Vayu Bhawan).
He succeeded Air Chief Marshal R.K.S. Bhadauria who retired earlier in the day.
“Protection of our nation's sovereignty and integrity is to be ensured at any cost," Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari after taking over as Chief of Air Staff.
The taking over of Air Chef Marshal Chaudhari as head of the IAF brought cheers to the teachers and alumnii of BHEL Higher Secondary School at Ramachandrapuram, where he studied for some years.
Ex-principal C. Vasantha of the school said, "I had the opportunity to teach mathematics and I remember Vivek as a polite student who was good in academics as well as sports and extracurricular activities.”
“We, teachers and alumni, are pleased with his illustrious career and accomplishments, and it is a proud moment for all of us. We are especially honored by the students who chose to serve, protect and defend this great nation in the armed forces through their selfless sacrifice, courage and valour,” Principal Vasantha said.
BHEL Higher Secondary School Alumni founder member Uma Ganesh, who lives in the BHEL, said "He joined the NDA in 1979 and was commissioned in December 1982. He and Uttam Kumar Reddy, senior member of the Congress, were classmates in 1978."
During the golden jubilee celebrations of the school in 2014, Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari was felicitated by the alumni.
The school started with 25 students and had more than 4200 students till 2004 when it shut down.
In the initial days there were no career counselling sessions but the school focused on future techniques and that has led to many of its students becoming achievers and also world citizens.
The school alumni are working towards re-starting the school.
Back in Delhi, Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari said that that enhancement of operational capability through integration of newly inducted platforms, weapons and equipment with existing assets and dovetailing the same in concepts of operations would remain a priority area.
The new IAF chief spoke on aspects of acquisition of new technology, promotion of indigenisation and innovation, strengthening of cyber security, rapid adaptation of training methods to meet future demands and sustained work to nurture human resources.
Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari, who was serving as Vice Chief of Air Staff till his appointment to head the IAF, was commander of the Delhi-based Western Air Command (WAC) which looks after both the crucial borders, with China in Ladakh and with Pakistan from Ladakh up to Bikaner in Rajasthan. He has also commanded a MiG-29 squadron and two Air Force stations.
Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari was commissioned into the fighter stream of the Indian Air Force on December 29, 1982. He has a flying experience of more than 3,800 hours on a wide variety of fighter and trainer aircraft, including missions flown during Operations Meghdoot and Safed Sagar.
He is an alumnus of the National Defence Academy and Defence Services Staff College, Wellington.
A Category 'A' qualified flying instructor, Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari has served as an instructor at flying training establishments of the IAF and has also been an examiner. He was a pioneer member of the Suryakiran aerobatic display team.
Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari is taking over at a time when Indian Air Force is on high alert due to stand-off with China and is facing new challenges in the form of drone warfare. He will have to prepare the force to face the threats from China which is upgrading its ai rbases all along the LAC. Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari will also have to deal with theaterisation of Indian armed forces under the Chief of Defence Staff General Bipin Rawat. The IAF had raised concerns over the proposed theaterisation structure....