Air Marshal Vinod Kumar Bhatia, Vr.C(Bar), Indian Airforce

Air Marshal Vinod Kumar Bhatia, PVSM, AVSM, Vr.C(Bar)

A fighter pilot with more than 4000 hours of flying on 16 different types of fighter aircraft, Air Marshal V.K. Bhatia took part in the 1965 & 1971 Indo-Pak wars and was awarded the Vir Chakra on both occasions for his gallant contribution.

In April 2002, Air Marshal V.K. Bhatia took over as Inspector General at Air Headquarters. His previous appointments include Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Air Command, Asst Chief of Air Staff(Operations), Senior Air Staff Officer, Western Air Command, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Central Air Command and Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, South Western Air Command.

Vir Chakra Citations

During the Indo-Pak conflict of 1965, Flt Lt Vinod Kumar Bhatia was serving in an operational squadron in the Lahore Sector. He flew 18 operational sorties in that sector.

On 8th September 1965, Flt Lt Bhatia flew as No.2 in a formation of four Mystere aircraft on a ground attack strike mission. In the face of very heavy and concentrated enemy fire, Flt Lt Bhatia, totally unmindful of the danger to which he was exposed, pressed home repeated attacks on enemy tanks and gun positions and destroyed two tanks.

The courage and determination displayed by Flt Lt Bhatia were in the best traditions of the Indian Air Force. For this he was awarded the Vir Chakra.

During the operations against Pakistan in December 1971, Sqn Ldr Bhatia was a flight commander of a fighter bomber squadron. He flew a large number of missions deep inside enemy territory and brought back useful information. He also led three deep-penetration counter air strikes against enemy airfields which were heavily defended by anti-aircraft guns.

On his subsequent missions, notwithstanding heavy ground fire and patrolling by enemy aircraft, he pressed home his attacks. He was responsible for the destruction of three enemy aircraft and numerous other military installations on the ground. He also carried out interdiction missions disrupting enemy lines of communication. In addition, he provided close air support to our ground forces.

Throughout the operations, Sqn Ldr Bhatia displayed gallantry, determination and professional skill of a high order. For this he was awarded the Bar to Vir Chakra.