31 May : Air Chief Marshal Pradeep Vasant Naik, a veteran fighter pilot, on Sunday took over as chief of Indian Air Force replacing ACM F H Major. With this change of guard, the command of IAF is back in the hands of a fighter pilot after 26 months. ACM Major, who retired on Sunday, was a helicopter pilot.
ACM Naik has assumed the charge at a time when the IAF is undergoing rapid modernisation and is in the process of acquiring 126 Medium Multirole Combat Aircraft, 22 combat helicopters, 15 heavy lift and 197 Light Utility Helicopters (LUH) for its fleet in its efforts to deal with the problem of decreasing number of fighter aircraft squadrons.
Born in Nagpur, ACM Naik was commissioned into the IAF on 21st June, 1969 as a fighter pilot.With over 3,000 hours of combat aircraft flying hours under his belt, the 59-year-old alumnus of National Defence Academy, had also participated in 1971 Indo-Pak war and held various command and instructional appointments in his career spanning over 40 years.
Prior to taking over as the air chief, he was the Vice Chief of the Air Staff and commanded the Allahabad-based central Air Command as well.