It was the air force chief designate Air Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa who developed the country’s aerial targeting philosophy against potential adversaries and transformed the concepts of air operations of the Indian Air Force to contemporary war fighting practices.
Announcing that Air Marshal Dhanoa will be the new chief, two days after his appointment was made public by the government, the IAF in a statement said he has mainly flown the Kiran and MiG-21 aircraft and has flying experience across the entire spectrum of fighter aircraft from the Jaguar to the state-of-the-art MiG-29 and Su-30 MKI.
The IAF statement said the officer has an immaculate record of flight safety throughout his distinguished career as a field commander.
Dhanoa, who will be the 25th chief of the IAF since Independence, was commissioned in the IAF in June 1978 as a fighter pilot.
The Air Marshal has many feathers in his hat. As Commanding Officer of a front line ground attack fighter squadron, he led the IAF punch during the “Limited War” against Pakistan to evict the enemy from their “dug in” defences in the icy heights of Kargil region.
During the conflict, under his leadership and supervision, the squadron devised unique and innovative methods of bombing in the night at altitudes never before attempted in the history of air warfare, the IAF said.
While prior to the war, the squadron, for its high degree of professionalism and peace time training had been adjudged as the best fighter squadron of western Air Command, post the conflict it emerged as the most decorated IAF unit of Kargil War.
The Air Marshal himself was awarded Vayu Sena Medal for his exceptional devotion to duty prior to the war and the coveted Yudh Seva Medal post war for his outstanding bravery and leadership during the conflict, both in the year 1999.
His command tenure of a Forward (Fighter) Base Support Unit was equally illustrious with the base being adjudged as the best in maintenance despite being an FBSU and was runner-up for the Pride of SWAC Trophy.
He also holds the highest flying instructional category in the IAF and was handpicked to establish the ‘IAF Training Team’ abroad.
“During his staff tenure, he developed the aerial targeting philosophy against our potential adversaries and transformed the concepts of Air Operations of the Indian Air Force to contemporary war fighting practices of Air Power,” the statement said.
The Air Marshal has the distinction of having held a
number of significant staff appointments at Operational Commands, Joint Training Establishments and Air Headquarters.
The appointments include Director Targeting Cell at Air Headquarters, Director Fighter Operations and War Planning at Headquarters Western Air Command, Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Intelligence) at Air Headquarters, Senior Air Staff Officer of two Operational Commands (Eastern and Western) and Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of South Western Air Command.
He is presently the Vice Chief of the Air Staff of the Indian Air Force.
The success of performance of IAF units during international exercises in United Kingdom and the US under his tenure as VCAS is evident by the fact that all aircraft travelled halfway across the globe and still maintained 100 per cent serviceability throughout the exercise, the IAF said.
The Air Marshal is also an avid reader and writer of Air Power and Joint Operations, it added.