Saturday, May 21, 2011

Air Marshal NAK Browne will be the next Chief of Air Staff

Vice Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal NAK Browne will be the next Chief of Air Staff on the retirement of Air Chief Marshal PV Naik from government service on July 31, 2011.

Born in Allahabad on 15 December 1951, Air Marshal NAK Browne was commissioned into the Fighter stream of Indian Air Force on 24 June 1972. With about 3100 hours of flying to his credit, he has had a varied operational experience that included flying Hunters, all variants of MiG-21s, Jaguars and SU-30s.

An alumnus of National Defence Academy, Khadakwasla, Pune, he is a Fighter Combat Leader, who has also served as an instructor at the Tactics and Air Combat Development Establishment (TACDE) - a premiere flying establishment of the IAF and the Tri-services Defence Services Staff College (DSSC), Wellington.

A graduate of the Air Command and Staff College, Albama, USA, he had trained with the Royal Air Force (RAF) in the United Kingdom, on Jaguar aircraft and went on to command a Jaguar Squadron subsequently.

During his long career spanning 38 years, he has held various operational and staff appointments that include - Joint Director at Air War Strategy Cell at Air Headquarters, Chief Operations Officer and Air Officer Commanding of a SU-30 base, Air-I at New Delhi based Western Air Command (WAC) and Assistant Chief of the Air Staff (Intelligence) at Air Headquarters.

He was also responsible for establishing the Indian Defence Wing in Tel Aviv, Israel in April 1997 where he served as the Defence Attache till July 2000. From March 2007 to 31 May 2009 he functioned as the Deputy Chief of the Air Staff (DCAS) at Air Headquarters and was responsible for lAF's major Modernization Programmes.

Before taking over as the Vice Chief of the Air Staff (VCAS) at Air Headquarters on 01 January 2011, he was the AOC-in-C of Western Air Command, lAF's most vital operational Command. Under his command and personal supervision, the first ever landing of an AN-32 (fixed wing aircraft) took place at Nyoma, advance Landing Ground (ALG), located at an altitude of 13,300 feet on 18 September 2009.

Air Marshal Browne is recipient of Param Vishist Seva Medal (PVSM), Ati Vishist Seva Medal (AVSM), Vayu Sena Medal (VM) and is appointed as one of the Honorary ADCs to the President of India.

Married to Kiran Browne, they have a son, Omar, a fighter pilot in the IAF and a daughter Alisha, who is working with a multinational company.

Thursday, May 12, 2011


Photographs released by the Indian Air Force of the Exercise which is taking place in Rajasthan involving 2 Corps and elements of Western Air Command. Lt Gen SR Ghosh, Western Army Commander, got to take a joyride in a Jaguar in the exercise.


Following in the footsteps of the Pakistan Chief of Army Staff, General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, General Khalid Shameem Wyne, has also embarked on a tour involving meeting the officer cadre to take stock of the situation following the US military's covert strike on Osama Bin Laden in Abottabad.

Addressing the student officers of the Command and Staff College in Quetta, General Khalid Shameem Wynne, a four star General, said that the defense forces of Pakistan are well equipped, highly motivated and fully capable to all dimensions of conventional and unconventional threat posed to security and integrity of the country (as reported by Inter Services Public Relations or ISPR). Given the fact that what happened in Abottabad has caused much shame and consternation among Army officers, this is a typical PR statement which does not have any bearing on what the General might have actually said during his meeting with the student officers.

The important thing to note is that the senior leadership of the Pak Army is worried enough to undertake such meetings with junior officers. The last time this happened was in the aftermath of the humiliating defeat suffered by the Pakistan Army in the 1971 war. The then COAS had also undertaken such addresses and was booed in one of them. Does this signify a crises in leadership as far as the top echelon of the Pak Army is concerned? The image of the COAS may well have taken a beating. And this may result him in not getting another extension this year-end if he does not handle his Corps Commanders with care. He managed to get an extension last time because the US was supporting him. This time around with the Osama fiasco, this might not happen.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


After doing his bit in the service of the nation by giving residential plots to Messers Deepak Kapoor and VK Singh, Haryana Chief Minister has now rewarded yet another retired General.

And this time he has given the command of an institution which faces repeated allegations of corruption and nepotism in the state and is facing several court cases concerning irregularities in selections.

Pls read the sarkari press release down below:

Haryana Governor, Mr Jagannath Pahadia administered the oath of office and secrecy to Lt. Gen (Retd.) D.P. Vats, former Director and Commandant, Armed Forces Medical College (AFMC), Pune as Chairman, Haryana Public Service Commission here today.

Haryana Chief Minister, Mr. Bhupinder Singh Hooda was present on the occasion.

Dr.Vats was born on April 16,1950 at village Thurana in district Hisar. A graduate of Pt. BD Sharma PGIMS, Rohtak, he was commissioned into the Indian Army in August 1975. He had done his MS (Ophthalmology) from AFMC, Pune in 1982 and received training in Anterior Segment Surgery at AIIMS, New Delhi in 1992 and in Eye Banking at LV Prasad Eye Institute, Hyderabad in 1998.

Lt Gen D.P. Vats is decorated with Param Vishist Seva Medal in 2011, Sena Medal in 2003, Vishist Seva Medal in 1999, COAS Commendation Cards in 1996, 2005 and 2008 and GOC in C (WC) Commendation Card in 2001 for exceptionally meritorious service and contribution towards patient care.

He has held various prestigious positions including Associate Professor in Ophthalmology at AFMC, Pune from 1995-2000, senior advisor in Ophthalmology at Command Hospital (WC) from 2000-2002, senior advisor and consultant in Ophthalmology at the prestigious Army Hospital (R & R), New Delhi from 2002-2006, Commandant, AFMSD, Delhi Cantonment from 2006 to 2008, Commandant, Command Hospital (Southern Command), Pune from 2008-2009 and Major General (Medical), Headquarters, Southern Command.

Monday, May 2, 2011


Air Cmde SC Chafekar took over the Command of 12 Wing, AF from Air Cmde Rajeev Sachdeva who stands posted to HQ IDS as ACIDS (ICT) New Delhi on promotion as Air Vice Marshal.

Air Cmde Chafekar was commissioned in 28 Dec 82 into the IAF. During his service spanning over 28 years, he has more than 7000 hrs on various types of aircraft which includes Otters, HT-2, HPT-32, Avro (HS-748), Kiran and AN-32. Air Cmde SC Chafekar is an alumnus of Defence Service Staff College.

Air Cmde SC Chafekar has served all over the country and specializes in Air Maintenance. He is a Qualified Flying Instructor with over 2500 instructional hours. He has held three important portfolios at AF station Chandigarh. He was the flight commander, has commanded the 48 Sqn and now is the Air Officer Commanding which is a rare feat. He was Chief Operations Officer of Asia’s biggest Air Force Station Agra. During his last tenure as CO of the 48 Sqn, he executed trial landing at three ALGs namely DBO (16200ft), Nyoma (13500ft) and Fukche (13500 ft); DBO being the highest airfield in the world. He has also done a stint as PD Ops (T&H) at Air Headquarters (Vayu Bhawan) where he was incharge of IAF transport fleet before taking over command of 12 Wing, Air Force.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Surviving a missile and an Air Marshal

Air Commodore SC Chafekar takes over as the Air Officer Commanding of 12 Wing in Chandigarh on Monday, the 2nd May. He is the second Commanding Officer of 48 Squadron who takes over as the AOC Chandigarh in succession. But what brings to mind is his remarkable escape, first when the AN-32 which he was co-piloting was shot at and damaged by the Pakistan Army near Kargil, and his subsequent escape from efforts to blame him for the fiasco.
At that point of time Wg Cdr Chafekar was attempting the first landing by a fixed wing aircraft at the newly established airfield in Kargil in 2002.

Let's recall that unfortunate incident in slight detail. As is the wont in this country, any important event has to be hijacked by the powers-that-be. And so this pioneering flight to Kargil had to have the then AOC-in-C, Western Air Command, Air Marshal VK Bhatia, on it. But the Air Marshal was not satisfied by being just the passenger on board. Or for that matter being just a co-pilot. He took over as the Captain of the aircraft and Wg Cdr Chafekar became the co-pilot. Flt Lt V Awasthy was the navigator. On approach to the runway, which was a bit tricky and since the Air Marshal was not familiar flying in this area, the aircraft strayed over to the other side of the LoC and was fired upon by a Pakistan Army unit with a missile which hit one engine.

The aircraft managed to land in Leh and the incident was kept under wraps for a few days. I was then working with the Hindustan Times in Chandigarh and found out about it a couple of days later. My Editor asked me to double check on it and by the time I did so, Gaurav Sawant, then working with Indian Express broke the story.

I was packed off to Leh in double time and what followed was a series of stories with Lt Gen Arjun Ray, the then GOC 14 Corps, saying a couple of things about Air Marshal Bhatia, on record. He was peeved with initial attempts by the Air Marshal to try and fix the blame on friendly fire from Indian Army on peaks around Kargil. I enjoyed doing the stories because Lt Gen Ray could be quite colourful when he wanted to prove a point. Ultimately, he stopped only when the Army Chief asked him to pipe down in interest of harmony among sister services and I got another story to do in Leh. The shooting of LoC-Kargil, the JP Dutta movie on Kargil conflict had started and Lt Gen Ray's son was an Assistant Director in the movie. So Dutta had all the facilities of the 14 Corps at his disposal (also with Army HQs permission) and I had access to an exclusive story. Both, Lt Gen Ray and me, were happy to move on from Chafekar-Bhatia episode.

But to come back to the main story, there were unfortunate attempts to frame Wg Cdr Chafekar and to insinuate that it was he who had erred. But Air Chief Marshal Krishnaswamy, the then Air Chief, intervened and made sure the Court of Inquiry made the right recommendations. Wg Cdr Chafekar, thus escaped through the skin of his teeth, while Air Marshal Bhatia was sent at a significantly lower post of Inspector General Flight Safety while retaining his perks and privledges as a C-in-C. Interesting to note that someone who violated flight safety was made in-charge of it. But that's another story.

And so Wg Cdr Chafekar went on to become Gp Capt, command a squadron in Chandigarh, made some more pioneering landings in DBO, Fukche and Nyoma and now comes back as Air Cmde to the same station.

Here's wishing him more safe landings.