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Chief of the Air Staff (India)

Chief of the Air Staff
Incumbent
Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari
PVSM, AVSM, VM, ADC
since 30 September 2021
 Indian Air Force
StatusProfessional head of aerial branch of the Indian Armed Forces.
AbbreviationCAS
Member ofDefence Acquisition Council
Defence Planning Committee
National Security Council
Reports to President of India
Prime Minister of India
Minister of Defence
Chief of Defence Staff
SeatAir HQ, Vayu Bhawan, New Delhi
AppointerAppointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC)
President of India
Term length3 years or at the age of 62, whichever is earlier.
Constituting instrumentAir Force Act, 1950 (Act No. 45 of 1950)
PrecursorChief of the Air Staff and Commander-in-Chief, Indian Air Force
Formation26 January 1950; 74 years ago (1950-01-26)
First holderAir Marshal Sir Thomas Elmhirst
Deputy Vice Chief of the Air Staff (VCAS)
Salary250,000 (US$3,100) monthly[1][2]
WebsiteOfficial website

The Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) is a statutory office held by the professional head of the Indian Air Force (IAF), the aerial branch of the Indian Armed Forces.[3] Customarily held by a four-star air chief marshal, the CAS is the senior-most operational officer of the IAF, mandated with the responsibilities of supervising the force's overall functioning during states of peace and wartime, committing to the establishment-cum-continuity of air deterrence and executing India's security objectives vis-à-vis the preservation of the country's air sovereignty.[4] Also a permanent member of the Chiefs of Staff Committee (COSC) and the National Security Council (NSC), the CAS also bears the responsibility of advising the nation's civilian leadership i.e., the Government of India on all matters privy to the IAF.[5]

Statutorily, the CAS ranks 12th-overall in the Indian order of precedence, and is the IAF's status-equivalent of the Chief of Defence Staff, the Chief of the Army Staff and the Chief of the Naval Staff - all three positions of which are also occupied by four-star officers from the armed forces.[6]

History

Pre-independence era (1932-1947)

Since the establishment of the Indian Air Force (IAF) in October 1932 (later rechristened the Royal Indian Air Force (RIAF)), the organization's professional head bore the undermentioned designations:[7]

  • 1932–1938: Air Officer Commanding RAF, India[8]
  • 1938–1947: Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Air Forces in India[9]

Dominion-era (1947-1950)

Upon independence and the subsequent partition of the subcontinent, RAF India was bifurcated into two new entities: a successor Royal Indian Air Force (RIAF) - responsible for the Dominion of India, and the newly-formed Royal Pakistan Air Force (RPAF) - responsible for the Dominion of Pakistan. However, the former role of Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Air Forces in India was trifurcated into three positions:

Whilst the RIAF and RPAF maintained their respective commanding officers, the Deputy Supreme Commander (Air), who worked for the Supreme Commander's Headquarters (Supreme HQ), acted as the overall coordinator for the two new air forces, under the additional title of Air Officer Commanding RAF Units in India and Pakistan.[10] The role was disbanded in November 1947, following which India and Pakistan subsequently gained full organizational control of the RIAF and RPAF, respectively.[10]

On 1 March 1948, the designation of the RIAF's commanding officer was rechristened as Chief of the Air Staff,[11] and again to Chief of the Air Staff and Commander-in-Chief, Royal Indian Air Force (CAS/C-in-C, RIAF) on 21 June - as a measure to reflect uniformity with the C-in-Cs of the post-independence Indian Army and the Royal Indian Navy.[12] Upon India's establishment as a republic on 26 January 1950, the RIAF was rechristened as the Indian Air Force (IAF), dropping the Royal-prefix; subsequently, the position's designation was again modified to Chief of the Air Staff and Commander-in-Chief, Indian Air Force (CAS/C-in-C, IAF).[13] In the initial years after independence, up until 1950, the position was occupied by two air marshals seconded from the RAF, namely, Sir Thomas Walker Elmhirst and Sir Ronald Ivelaw-Chapman.[13]

Republic-era (1950-present)

In 1954, Air Marshal Sir Gerald Ernest Gibbs, the IAF's third and then-serving CAS/C-in-C, and originally an RAF-secondment, retired; as a consequence, Air Vice Marshal Subroto Mukherjee - then the IAF's Deputy Chief of the Air Staff (DCAS), was promoted to rank of Air Marshal and succeeded him as the first native and first non-RAF C-in-C of the force.[14] A year later, in 1955, the designation of C-in-C was shortened to simply Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) through the Commanders-In-Chief (Change in Designation) Act, 1955; as a result of the Act, Mukherjee's tenure continued under the new designation, making him the last C-in-C.[15]

In January 2002, then-retired Air Chief Marshal Arjan Singh, the IAF's third CAS, was promoted to the five-star rank of Marshal of the Indian Air Force (MIAF), in recognition of his leadership during the 1965 Indo-Pakistani War - which made him the only CAS-appointee to have ever been promoted to the rank; his promotion occurred thirty-three years after his superannuation.[16] To note, although the rank-holder of MIAF is nominally the highest-ranking officer in the IAF, the rank is all but titular with no operational duties attached, which leaves the CAS as the highest operationally-active officer in the IAF.[17]

Description

The Vayu Bhawan, New Delhi - the station of Air HQ, where the CAS is seated.

Roles and responsibilities

Seated at Air Headquarters (Air HQ), stationed in New Delhi, the CAS is the senior-most operational officer of the IAF, and is tasked with the following:

  • Responsibility for the overall functioning of the organization's facets, such as command, control, administration and strategy.[18]
  • Advising the Central Government on all matters privy to the IAF.[5]
  • Coordinating various components of the IAF towards the protection-cum-realization of the nation's air sovereignty during states of armed conflict or war.[19]
  • Convening court-martials at the behest of the Central Government to review cases of misconduct during peace and wartime.[20]
  • Reviewing the judicial sentencing and pleas of officers convicted of professional misconduct whilst in service.[20]

In addition to these responsibilities, the CAS is also a permanent member of:

The office's eminence in the aforementioned groups thus grants the appointee with the role to advise the Minister of Defence (Raksha Mantri or RM) on the affairs related to the IAF's functioning and the promotion of an comprehensive integrated planning policy with respect to the affairs of tri-service integration, doctrinal strategy, capability development, defence acquisition and infrastructure.[21][22]

Structure

As the professional head of the force, the CAS is assisted by one subordinate officer and one principal staff officer, namely:

Promotion

Initially, beginning in the pre-independence era, until 1966, the office of CAS was held by a three-star air marshal; the first three chiefs in the post-independence IAF were three-star air marshals.[23] However, the office’s rank-eligibility was raised to the four-star rank of air chief marshal in January 1966, initially as a recognitive measure to Air Marshal Arjan Singh, the IAF's third and then-incumbent CAS, for his leadership of the IAF during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1965; every CAS-appointee since then has been an air chief marshal.[23]

The move to appoint a new designate to the position usually begins three months before the change-of-command, wherein the Ministry of Defence (MoD) reviews the résumés of the IAF's senior-most air marshals, which regularly includes the Vice Chief of the Air Staff and at-most three of the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chiefs (AOC-in-C) of the force’s combatant commands.[24] Appointments to the position are made by the Appointments Committee of the Cabinet (ACC) - comprising the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defence, upon recommendation from Air HQ; appointees to the office are subsequently promoted to the rank of air chief marshal.[25]

Tenure

During the initial years of the post-independence IAF, CAS-appointees were given one four-year term, with the possibility of extension; Air Marshal Subroto Mukherjee was the longest serving chief – at 6 years, 7 months, 7 days, and the only appointee to have ever received a second four-year term; nevertheless, he unexpectedly died halfway through it.[26] Currently, according to the Defence Service Regulations (Updated), 2000 – a CAS-appointee reaches superannuation upon the completion of three years in the position or at the age of 62, whichever is earlier.[27]

Additionally, a CAS-appointee is also eligible to be selected for the position of Chief of Defence Staff (CDS), in accordance with the Air Force (Amendment) Regulations, 2022 - which prescribes that the designated nominee, in this case the CAS, must be under the age of 62 at the time of appointment as CDS; as of 2024, no CAS-appointee has ever been appointed as CDS.[28][29]

Appointees

(**Seconded from the Royal Air Force)

Air Marshal Commanding, Royal Indian Air Force (1947–1948)

No. Portrait Name Took office Left office Time in office
1
Sir Thomas Elmhirst CB, KBE, AFC**
Elmhirst, ThomasAir Marshal
Sir Thomas Elmhirst CB, KBE, AFC**
(1895–1982)
[a]
15 August 194720 June 1948310 days

Chief of the Air Staff and Commander-in-Chief, Royal Indian Air Force (1948–1950)

No. Portrait Name Took office Left office Time in office
1
Sir Thomas Elmhirst CB, KBE, AFC**
Elmhirst, ThomasAir Marshal
Sir Thomas Elmhirst CB, KBE, AFC**
(1895–1982)
[a]
21 June 194825 January 19501 year, 218 days

Chief of the Air Staff and Commander-in-Chief, Indian Air Force (1950–1955)

No. Portrait Name Took office Left office Time in office
1
Sir Thomas Elmhirst KBE, CB, AFC**
Elmhirst, ThomasAir Marshal
Sir Thomas Elmhirst KBE, CB, AFC**
(1895–1982)
[a][30]
26 January 195023 February 195028 days
2
Sir Ronald Ivelaw-Chapman KBE, CB, DFC, AFC**
Ivelaw-Chapman, RonaldAir Marshal
Sir Ronald Ivelaw-Chapman KBE, CB, DFC, AFC**
(1899–1978)
[a]
23 February 19509 December 19511 year, 289 days
3
Gerald Ernest Gibbs CIE, CBE, MC & Two Bars**
Gibbs, GeraldAir Marshal
Gerald Ernest Gibbs CIE, CBE, MC & Two Bars**
(1896–1992)
[a]
10 December 195131 March 19542 years, 111 days
4
Subroto Mukerjee OBE
Mukerjee, SubrotoAir Marshal
Subroto Mukerjee OBE
(1911–1960)
1 April 195431 March 1955364 days

Chief of the Air Staff (1955–present)

No. Portrait Name Took office Left office Time in office
4
Subroto Mukerjee OBE
Mukerjee, SubrotoAir Marshal
Subroto Mukerjee OBE
(1911–1960)
1 April 19558 November 1960 †5 years, 221 days
5
Aspy Merwan Engineer DFC
Engineer, AspyAir Marshal
Aspy Merwan Engineer DFC
(1912–2002)
1 December 196031 July 19643 years, 243 days
6
Arjan Singh DFC
Singh, ArjanAir Chief Marshal
Arjan Singh DFC
(1919–2017)
1 August 196415 July 19694 years, 348 days
7
Pratap Chandra Lal DFC
Lal, PratapAir Chief Marshal
Pratap Chandra Lal DFC
(1916–1982)
16 July 196915 January 19733 years, 183 days
8
Om Prakash Mehra PVSM
Mehra, OmAir Chief Marshal
Om Prakash Mehra PVSM
(1919–2015)
16 January 197331 January 19763 years, 15 days
9
Hrushikesh Moolgavkar PVSM, MVC
Moolgavkar, HrushikeshAir Chief Marshal
Hrushikesh Moolgavkar PVSM, MVC
(1920–2015)
1 February 197630 August 19782 years, 241 days
10
Idris Hasan Latif PVSM
Latif, IdrisAir Chief Marshal
Idris Hasan Latif PVSM
(1923–2018)
1 September 197830 August 19813 years, 29 days
11
Dilbagh Singh PVSM, AVSM, VM
Singh, DilbaghAir Chief Marshal
Dilbagh Singh PVSM, AVSM, VM
(1926–2001)
1 September 19813 September 19843 years, 2 days
12
Lakshman Madhav Katre PVSM, AVSM
Katre, LakshmanAir Chief Marshal
Lakshman Madhav Katre PVSM, AVSM
(1926–1985)
3 September 19841 July 1985 †301 days
13
Denis Anthony La Fontaine PVSM, AVSM, VM
Fontaine, DenisAir Chief Marshal
Denis Anthony La Fontaine PVSM, AVSM, VM
(1929–2011)
3 July 198531 July 19883 years, 28 days
14
Surinder Kumar Mehra PVSM, AVSM, VM
Mehra, SurinderAir Chief Marshal
Surinder Kumar Mehra PVSM, AVSM, VM
(1932–2003)
1 August 198831 July 19912 years, 364 days
15
Nirmal Chandra Suri PVSM, AVSM, VM, ADC
Suri, NirmalAir Chief Marshal
Nirmal Chandra Suri PVSM, AVSM, VM, ADC
(born 1933)
31 July 199131 July 19932 years
16
Swaroop Krishna Kaul PVSM, MVC, ADC
Kaul, SwaroopAir Chief Marshal
Swaroop Krishna Kaul PVSM, MVC, ADC
(born 1935)
1 August 199331 December 19952 years, 152 days
17
Satish Kumar Sareen PVSM, AVSM, VM, ADC
Sareen, SatishAir Chief Marshal
Satish Kumar Sareen PVSM, AVSM, VM, ADC
(born 1939)
31 December 199531 December 19983 years
18
Anil Yashwant Tipnis PVSM, AVSM, VM, ADC
Tipnis, AnilAir Chief Marshal
Anil Yashwant Tipnis PVSM, AVSM, VM, ADC
(born 1940)
31 December 199831 December 20013 years
19
Srinivasapuram Krishnaswamy PVSM, AVSM, VM
Krishnaswamy, SrinivasapuramAir Chief Marshal
Srinivasapuram Krishnaswamy PVSM, AVSM, VM
(born 1943)
31 December 200131 December 20043 years
20
Shashindra Pal Tyagi PVSM, AVSM, VM, ADC
Tyagi, ShashindraAir Chief Marshal
Shashindra Pal Tyagi PVSM, AVSM, VM, ADC
(born 1945)
31 December 200431 March 20072 years, 90 days
21
Fali Homi Major PVSM, AVSM, SC, VM, ADC
Major, FaliAir Chief Marshal
Fali Homi Major PVSM, AVSM, SC, VM, ADC
(born 1947)
31 March 200731 May 20092 years, 61 days
22
Pradeep Vasant Naik PVSM, VSM, ADC
Naik, PradeepAir Chief Marshal
Pradeep Vasant Naik PVSM, VSM, ADC
(born 1949)
31 May 200931 July 20112 years, 61 days
23
Norman Anil Kumar Browne PVSM, AVSM, VM, ADC
Browne, NormanAir Chief Marshal
Norman Anil Kumar Browne PVSM, AVSM, VM, ADC
(born 1951)
31 July 201131 December 20132 years, 153 days
24
Arup Raha PVSM, AVSM, VM, ADC
Raha, ArupAir Chief Marshal
Arup Raha PVSM, AVSM, VM, ADC
(born 1954)
31 December 201331 December 20163 years
25
Birender Singh Dhanoa PVSM, AVSM, YSM, VM, ADC
Dhanoa, BirenderAir Chief Marshal
Birender Singh Dhanoa PVSM, AVSM, YSM, VM, ADC
(born 1957)
31 December 201630 September 20192 years, 273 days
26
Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria PVSM, AVSM, VM, ADC
Bhadauria, RakeshAir Chief Marshal
Rakesh Kumar Singh Bhadauria PVSM, AVSM, VM, ADC
(born 1959)
30 September 201930 September 20212 years
27
Vivek Ram Chaudhari PVSM, AVSM, VM, ADC
Chaudhari, Vivek RamAir Chief Marshal
Vivek Ram Chaudhari PVSM, AVSM, VM, ADC
(born 1962)
30 September 2021Incumbent2 years, 230 days

See also

Notes

  1. ^ a b c d e Seconded from the Royal Air Force

References

  1. ^ "Report of the 7th Central Pay Commission of India" (PDF). Seventh Central Pay Commission, Government of India. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 November 2015. Retrieved 13 August 2017.
  2. ^ Biswas, Shreya, ed. (29 June 2016). "7th Pay Commission cleared: What is the Pay Commission? How does it affect salaries?". India Today. Archived from the original on 15 November 2017. Retrieved 24 September 2017.
  3. ^ "CHIEF OF THE AIR STAFF". indianairforce.nic.in.
  4. ^ "IAF's Revised Doctrine 2022: An Overview". www.vifindia.org. 7 February 2023.
  5. ^ a b "The Civil and the Military in India". www.theindiaforum.in. 12 February 2020.
  6. ^ "PRESIDENT'S SECRETARIAT" (PDF). www.mha.gov.in. 26 July 1979.
  7. ^ "The Royal Indian Air Force, 1932 – 1947". www.rafmuseum.org.uk. 15 August 2020.
  8. ^ "Inter-War, Inter-Service Friction on the North-West Frontier of India and its Impact on the Development and Application of Royal Air Force Doctrine" (PDF). core.ac.uk.
  9. ^ "PB Joubert de la Ferte_P". www.rafweb.org.
  10. ^ a b "Departure of Air Marshal H. S. P. Walmsley" (PDF). Press Information Bureau of India - Archive. 13 November 1947. Retrieved 24 September 2022.
  11. ^ "Press Communique" (PDF). Press Information Bureau of India - Archive. 28 February 1948. Archived (PDF) from the original on 16 February 2020. Retrieved 16 February 2020.
  12. ^ "Press Communique" (PDF). Press Information Bureau of India - Archive. 21 June 1948. Archived (PDF) from the original on 16 February 2020. Retrieved 16 February 2020.
  13. ^ a b "Air Marshal Sir Thomas Elmhirst". www.rafweb.org.
  14. ^ "Government Tribute To Air Marshal Mukerjee" (PDF). archive.pib.gov.in. 9 November 190.
  15. ^ "THE COMMANDERS-IN-CHIEF (CHANGE IN DESIGNATION) BILL, 1955" (PDF). lddashboard.legislative.gov.in.
  16. ^ "Arjan Singh is India's first IAF marshal". m.rediff.com. 25 January 2002.
  17. ^ "MARSHAL OF IAF". afcat.cdac.in.
  18. ^ "Indian Armed Forces". knowindia.india.gov.in.
  19. ^ "rotection of India's sovereignty, integrity to be ensured at any cost: New IAF Chief". The Economic Times. 30 September 2021.
  20. ^ a b "The Air Force Act, 1950" (PDF).
  21. ^ "Civil-military relations in Independent India". www.orfonline.org. 15 August 2022.
  22. ^ "CDS Rawat to face hurdles & sabotage unless rules are rewritten". www.orfonline.org. 2 January 2020.
  23. ^ a b "HIGHER RANK FOR AIR CHIEF" (PDF). pibarchive.nic.in. 20 January 1966.
  24. ^ "Suspense continues over name of next IAF Chief". www.theweek.in. 16 September 2019.
  25. ^ "Who is R.K.S. Bhadauria, the next IAF chief". www.theweek.in. 19 September 2019.
  26. ^ "Fresh Tenure for Air Chief" (PDF). pibarchive.nic.in. 14 August 1958.
  27. ^ "Defence Services Regulations, 2000" (PDF). www.mod.gov.in.
  28. ^ "Watch - Navy or IAF Officer Should've Been Made CDS but Lt Gen Chauhan a Good Choice: Ajai Shukla". thewire.in. 29 September 2022.
  29. ^ "MINISTRY OF DEFENCE (Department of Defence) NOTIFICATION" (PDF). assettype.com.
  30. ^ Chiefs of the Indian Air Force 1947 to Present Archived 26 December 2013 at the Wayback Machine
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Chief of the Air Staff (India)
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