As India received the first batch of five Rafale jets on Wednesday, the name of Air Commodore Hilal Ahmad Rather has been making headlines. Rather played a crucial role in the quick delivery of the fighter planes. Haling from South Kashmir's Anantnag district, Rather became the first pilot to see off the first batch of fighter jets that took off from France on Monday and arrived at Ambala Air Force station at 2 pm on Wednesday.
Air Commodore Rather, a recipient of Vayu Sena Medal and Vishisht Seva Medal for devotion to duty, is currently India's Air Attache to France. He has also been associated with the weaponisation of the Rafale fighter jets for acclimatisation to Indian requirements.
Born in middle-class family in South Kashmir, Hilal studied in Sainik School in Nagrota town of Jammu district and graduated from Defence Services Staff College. Hilal has won Sword of Honour in NDA. Hilal has won Sword of Honour in NDA.Also Read: Rafale in India Live Updates: First batch of 5 Rafale jets land at Ambala air base after 7,000 km ride
He was commissioned in the Indian Air Force as a fighter pilot on 17 December 1988, and became Flight Lieutenant in 1993, Wing Commander in 2004, Group Captain in 2016 and Air Commodore in 2019. 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 and also commanded a Mirage-2000 Squadron and a front-line Air Force Base. He graduated from the Air War College in USA with academic distinction.Also Read: Watch Rafale landing in Ambala live streaming at India Today, Aaj Tak
The arrival of the Rafale fighter aircraft will further boost IAF's combat capabilities in which the Air Commodore Rather is said to have played a instrumental role. The arrival of Rafale jets comes amid escalating border tension between India and China along the Line of Actual Control. Although China claims air superiority over India, the induction of Rafale fighter aircraft into the Indian Air Force could give India much-needed confidence to take on China's J20 5th generation aircraft.
The first squadron of the fighter jets will be stationed at the Ambala Air Force Station, as it is one of the most strategically located bases of the Indian Air Force (IAF). Meanwhile, the second squadron of Rafale will be deployed at Hasimara base in West Bengal. The Rafales will be inducted into the Indian Air Force's No 17 Squadron, also known as the 'Golden Arrows'.
By Chitranjan Kumar