Air Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa, a Kargil war veteran, took charge as the next Indian Air Force (IAF) chief. Arup Raha retired from Indian Air Force chief position on December 31. Air Marshal BS Dhanoa will be the 25th chief of the IAF since independence.
Dhanoa was commissioned into the fighter stream of the IAF in June 1978 as a fighter pilot.
For a year and a half, he has served as Vice Chief of the Air Staff. Before being appointed as VC of the Air Staff, Dhanoa was the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the South Western Air Command.
He has flown all types of fighter aircraft including HJT-16 Kiran, MiG-21, SEPECAT Jaguar, MiG-29 and Su-30MKI. He has a good record of flight safety throughout his career as a field commander.
He actively took part in the 1999 Kargil War and was commanding officer of a front line ground attack fighter squadron.
During the Operation Vijay in Kargil, he commanded a fighter squadron and himself flew numerous night strike missions to evict the enemy from their ‘dug in’ defences in the icy heights of Kargil region. During the conflict, under his supervision, the squadron devised unique and innovative methods of bombing in the night at altitudes never before attempted in the history of air warfare.
Post the Kargil-conflict, his fighter squadron emerged as the most decorated IAF unit of Kargil War.
He was awarded Yudh Seva Medal (YSM) and Vayu Sena Medal (VM) for his gallant actions in this conflict.
He also holds the highest flying instructional category in the IAF and was handpicked to establish the ‘IAF Training Team’ abroad.
Born in Punjab’s SAS Nagar, Mohali district, Air Marshal Dhanoa comes from a family of war veterans. His grandfather Capt Sant Singh was with the British Indian Army and fought in the World War II against the Japanese. His father, Sarayan Singh, served as the Chief Secretary to the Government of Punjab during the 1980s and later served as advisor to the state governor.
Dhanoa is an alumnus of Rashtriya Indian Military College, the National Defence Academy and the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington.
He has served various important operation appointments including Chief Instructor (Air) at the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington, Assistant Chief of the Air Staff (Intelligence) at Air Headquarters and Senior Air Staff Officer of two operational Commands.
The Air Marshal is also an avid reader and writer of Air Power and Joint Operations. He has held the appointments of Senior Instructor (Air) and Chief Instructor (Air) at the prestigious Defence Services Staff College, Wellington.