Kashmiri IAF Senior Pilot Sees Off First Rafale Take Off For India

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SRINAGAR: As the first batch of five Rafale fighters took off for India, the one seeing them off was a IAF’s senior pilot, a Kashmiri. He is deployed in India’s Paris mission as military attaché and has been part of the entire process in the last few years.

Air Commodore, Hilal A Rather

The details in circulation on social media identify him as Hilal Ahmad Rather, a resident of Kashmir. He was enrolled in Sainik School Nagrota.

During his training as a pilot, he has received Sword of Honour among pilots for being the best pilot in his group. Currently, he is an Air Commodore who is deployed at the Paris Mission as a Defence Attaché. Earlier as Wing Commander, he has received Vayu Sena Medal. He started flying fighters since December 1988. He is among the pilots credited with accident-free flying in their long IAF careers.

Hilal A Rather and India’s ambassador in France in a Rafale for a selfie

Rather was a flight lieutenant since 17 Dec 1993. He was elevated to Wing Commander on December 16, 2004, and to the position of Group Captain on May 1, 2010. The open-source details suggest that he became Air Commodore on December 26, 2016. “Wg Cdr Rather has always displayed highest personal professional standards and through his calm and intelligent handling, the officer recently, safely recovered a Mirage-2000 ac, with a third-degree failure of the Electronic Flight Control System and retained all external loads in spite of a serious emergency,” this medal citation reads. “The officer also led his Sqn during the Indo-French Exercise Garuda-III and FPD at Pokhran during which he delivered three LGBs with pinpoint accuracy.” He is credited to have locally fabricated a number of innovative, simple, inexpensive and effective alternatives Ground Support Equipment (GSE), which enhanced maintenance safety greatly.

Five pilots who have undergone extensive training are right now flying the five fighter planes home. They have taken off from Merignac in France on Monday morning for a7000 km flight to India. These five jets include three single-seater and two twin-seater aircraft. They are expected to land at Air Force Station, Ambala, on Wednesday. At their take-off they were seen by India’s ambassador to France and Rather.

The five fighter jets are the first batch of the 36 Rafale fighter aircrafts India has procured from France for Rs 59,000 crore.

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