New Delhi, June 01: Air Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa, the daring fighter pilot who flew with the then Indian Air Force (IAF) Chief during Kargil mission, took charge as the Vice Chief of the Air Staff (VCAS) today.
With 37 years of experience in his kitty, Air Marshal Dhanoa is also in line to become the next IAF chief by the end of next year.
Commissioned into the IAF in June 1978 as a fighter pilot, Air Marshal Dhanoa is an alumnus of Rashtriya Indian Military College, the National Defence Academy and the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington.
It was during the Kargil operations, he hit the headlines after commanding a fighter squadron.
As an ace pilot, he himself flew numerous night strike missions in the mountainous terrain, later paving for the Indian Army for advance.
During the Kargil conflict, Air Marshal Dhanoa flew in tandem with the IAF Chief A Y Tipnis.
During the famous flight Dhanoa insisted that he would fly with his own call sign. "He probably wanted to avoid his Chief being be put in any more danger. The Tipnis flight was a morale-booster for the entire IAF pilots taking part in the war," recalls an IAF observer.
Held many top positions in IAF
In recognition for his services, the Air Marshal was awarded Yudh Seva Medal (YSM) and Vayusena Medal (VM) in 1999. Later he was also awarded the Ati Vishisht Seva Medal (AVSM) in 2015 by the President of India.
According to the IAF, the Air Marshal has held a number of the important operational appointments including Station Commander of a fighter base and leader of an Indian Military Training Team abroad.