New Delhi, July 31 (IANS): Air Chief Marshal Norman Anil Kumar Browne, an ace combat pilot, today took over as the Indian Air Force (IAF) chief from incumbent Air Chief Marshal Pradeep Vasant Naik, who retired from service after four decades.
At a brief ceremony at Vayu Bhavan, the air headquarters, here, Browne, who has extensive operational, command and staff experience in the IAF, assumed office to lead the world's fourth largest air force.
Browne, who belongs to the minority Anglo-Indian community, goes by the nickname of Charlie Browne in Air Force. He was the IAF Vice Chief of the Force for the last six months and prior to that headed the Swordarm Western Air Command.
Speaking to reporters, he said his priorities during his two-and-half-year stint would revolve around enhancing the IAF's operational capabilities, maintaining its modernisation drive and ensuring the welfare of its personnel.
Naik, who has already revealed his intention of leading his retired life in Pune, had at his farewell press conference earlier this week said he was handing over to "a worthy successor," who brings "a wealth of wisdom and experience" to the office.
"I am confident under his leadership the IAF will scale new heights in professionalism and achievements," he had said.
The outgoing IAF chief said there were many areas the two had been working on together over the past couple of years and Browne knew exactly what those areas are, such as air defence.
Naik had also listed absorbing new technologies in the form of new aircraft, radars and equipment and training personnel to operate these new acquisitions among the primary focus areas for the new chief.
Browne, a fighter pilot with a varied operational experience on all kinds of aircraft including Hunters, all variants of the MiG 21s, Jaguars and the Sukhoi Su-30, has logged over 3,100 hours of flying.
An alumnus of the Khadakwasla-based National Defence Academy (NDA), he has over 39 years of service in the IAF in key appointments, including as instructor at the Gwalior-based Tactics and Air Combat Development Establishment (TACDE) and the tri-services Defence Services Staff College in Wellington, Tamil Nadu. He is a graduate of the Air Command and Staff College at Albama in the US and also trained with the Royal Air Force (RAF) in Britain on Jaguar aircraft, and later commanded a Jaguar squadron.
Browne has served as joint director at the Air War Strategy Cell, chief operations officer and air officer commanding of a Sukhoi base, assistant chief of the air staff (intelligence) at the air headquarters, and as the chief of the Palam-based Western Air Command. He was also a defence attache at the Indian embassy in Tel Aviv between 1997 and 2000. Between 2007 and 2009, as the deputy chief of the air staff, he supervised IAF's major modernisation programmes.
He is married to Kiran Browne. They have a son, Omar, who is a fighter pilot in the IAF, and daughter Alisha, who works for a multinational company.