Air Marshal B Suresh PVSM AVSM VM ADC took over as the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Western Air Command, Indian Air Force on 01 November 2019. The Air Marshal reviewed a ceremonial Guard of Honour and thereafter outlined his vision for the Western Air Command in consonance with the objectives of the IAF and the nation at large.
The Air Marshal is a highly decorated officer having been awarded the Presidential awards of Param Vishisht Seva Medal in 2019, Ati Vishisht Seva Medal in 2005 and Vayu Sena Medal in 2001. He was appointed as the Aide de camp to the Hon’ble President of India on 01 Feb 2019. The Air Marshal has donned a military uniform for 47 years; having joined the Rashtriya Indian Military College, Dehradun in 1972. An alumnus of the NDA, he was commissioned as a fighter pilot in the Indian Air Force on 13 December 1980. He is a ‘Sword of Honour’ awardee from the Tactics and Air Combat Development Establishment, a graduate of the Defence Services Staff College, Wellington and a post graduate from Cranfield University, Shrivenham, United Kingdom. He is a highly experienced fighter pilot and has flown almost all fighter aircraft and helicopters of the IAF. He takes charge of this crucial Air Command at a very critical time. He brings a wealth of operational experience to the table in his new assignment.
He is a ‘Jam Sataji Sword of Honour’ awardee from the prestigious ‘Tactics and Air Combat Development Establishment’ (TACDE) – IAF’s premier institution that develops comprehensive offensive/defensive combat tactics to be adopted by all components of air power in war. He has done three tenures at TACDE with the last being as the Commandant of the Establishment during which time, the ‘Beyond Visual Range’ Air-to-Air Missile tactics were developed.
He is widely acclaimed as a strategist and tactician of repute within Air Force circles and as the Exercise Director, he is credited with having been the mastermind behind IAF’s superlative performance during Exercise Cope India 2004 – the first international bilateral exercise with the United States Air Force held after a gap of nearly 40 years. He was again nominated as the ‘Exercise Director’ for the first ever bilateral exercise with the ‘Republic of Singapore Air Force’ – Ex SINDEX 2004 – where once again IAF excelled. The role played by the Air Officer in elevating IAF’s status internationally was recognized by awarding him the presidential award of Ati Vishisht Seva Medal (AVSM) and he thus became one of the youngest recipients of this Presidential Award as a Group Captain.
During his illustrious career, the Air Marshal has held a number of coveted command and staff appointments. He commanded a fighter squadron which specialized in maritime air strikes and was deployed along the Western border during the Kargil war. Thereafter, he was a flying inspector with the Directorate of Air Staff Inspection (DASI) – the agency that checks all units and bases for their war readiness. He also commanded ‘Tactics and Combat Development Establishment’ (TACDE), as a Group Captain. He was then appointed as the Director Operations (Joint Planning) to look after Tri-service cooperation. The officer has commanded one of the largest air bases of the IAF in the western sector as an Air Commodore. He was also the Air Assistant to the Chief of Air Staff. As an Air Vice Marshal, he held the important appointment of Assistant Chief of Air Staff [Operations (Air Defence)] for nearly four years, wherein he was also the Air Force member of the Tri-service Joint Operations Committee (JOCOM).
After being promoted to the rank of Air Marshal in 2014, he was appointed as the Senior Air Staff Officer (SASO) of Western Air Command wherein he brought about remarkable improvements in the operational orientation and battle readiness of the command with increased synergy with the three associated commands of the Indian Army viz – Northern Command, Western Command and South Western Command. As Air Officer-in-Charge Personnel (AOP) at Air Headquarters, his decisions and foresight have left a very significant impact. He was instrumental in initiating online conduct of AFCAT and STAR – the recruitment examination for officers and airmen respectively.
Before taking over as Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Western Air Command, he was appointed as Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of Southern Air Command with effect from 01 August 2018. Under his leadership, Southern Air Command grew exponentially in capability and functionality. The entire ‘Humanitarian Assistance and Disaster Relief (HADR) efforts during the Kerala floods was spearheaded by Southern Air Command under his leadership. This was one of the highest intensity HADR effort undertaken by IAF in recent history.
The Air Marshal is married to Mrs Radha Suresh and they have a son and a daughter. Mrs Radha Suresh possesses vast working experience and professional acumen. She is a double Post Graduate and a Fellow of the Federation of Insurance Institute. Mrs Suresh, a passionate environmentalist and caring woman, has been an active AFWWA member for the last 26 years and has always strived for enhancing the quality of life of Sanginis and their families.