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Major to be new Air Chief
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, January 30
The government today chose to stay away from controversy by appointing Air Marshal Fali Homi Major, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Air Command, as the next Chief of Air Staff to succeed Air Chief Marshal S.P. Tyagi.

The world’s fourth largest air force would for the first time be headed by a helicopter pilot rather than a fighter pilot, which had been the tradition in the past.

Air Marshal Major, the seniormost Air Marshal in the IAF, would succeed Air Chief Marshal S.P. Tyagi when he would retire on March 31.

The IAF, which was in its platinum jubilee year, was seeing a churning of sorts at the possibility of a chopper pilot heading the force.

In the weeks leading to the appointment, a strong lobby had been pushing to see a fighter pilot supersede Air Marshal Major.

In the forefront was the name of Air Marshal Padamjit Singh Ahluwalia, who would take over as the Chief of Western Air Command tomorrow.

His appointment as the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Western Air Command had further fuelled speculation that he might supercede Air Marshal Major. The IAF had a tradition of seeing an Air Chief being made from the Western Air Command.

The word is the Ministry of Defence was that defence minister A.K. Antony had shot down the argument that a chopper pilot would not be able to understand the requirements of a fighting force.

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