Air Commodore Hilal Rather From Kashmir Oversaw Rafale Journey
He has awarded the Vayu Sena Medal in 2010 and the Vishisht Seva Medal as a group captain in 2016.
Air Commodore Hilal Ahmad Rather, senior IAF officer hailing from Kashmir and presently serving as Air Attache to France, has played a pivotal role in the Indian Air Force’s acquisition of the Rafale fighter fleet.
IAF is all set to induct its first batch of Dassault Rafale fighter planes on 29 July, at the Ambala air force station which will make them one of the most advanced aircraft in its fighter fleet. Posing alongside the India’s Ambassador to France Jawed Ashraf, Air Commodore Rather oversaw the aircraft’s take-off from France on 27 July.
Reportedly hailing from south Kashmir’s Anantnag district, the officer is also said to have been awarded Sword of Honour at the National Defence Academy.
Commissioned into the IAF as a fighter Pilot in the Flying branch on 17 December 1988, the Air Commodore received multiple promotions and was awarded the Vayu Sena Medal in 2010 and the Vishisht Seva Medal as a group captain in 2016.
The arrival of the aircraft will bring to fruition a decades-long process of procurement, in which the Air Commodore is said to have played a pivotal role. In September 2016, the Indian government had signed a dealt with France to purchase 36 Rafale fighter aircraft under the emergency purchase route.
A highly decorated officer, Air Commodore to Flight lieutenant in 1993, Wing Commander in 2004, Group Captain in 2010 and Air Commodore in 2016.
He has more than 3,000 hours of accident-free flying on MiG-21s, Mirage-2000 and Kiran aircraft. He is a Fighter Combat Leader and a qualified Flying Instructor who has commanded a Mirage-2000 Squadron and also a front-line Air Force Base. He graduated from the Air War College in USA with academic distinction.
Rather was one of two IAF officers who had helped Defence Minister Rajnath Singh perform the traditional Hindu ”Shastra Puja” last October while officially receiving the first Rafale fighter jet.
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