Bhubaneswar: Air Marshal Dilip Kumar Patnaik, Chief Of Eastern Air Command of Indian Air Force (IAF), became the first Odia to fly the Rafale Fighter Jet.
Reportedly, the Odia air force officer flew a sortie in the Rafale fighter jet from the Hasimara Air Force Base in West Bengal yesterday.
Earlier, he had also inspected the Air Force Station at Hasimara from 22 to 24 May 22. During his visit, he stressed the importance of the base owing to its strategic location and operating the latest Rafale aircraft brings in additional responsibility. The Rafale squadron in Hasimara has helped in enhancing operational preparedness in the eastern sector.
An alumnus of the National Defence Academy (NDA), Khadakwasla, Dilip Kumar Patnaik was commissioned into IAF as a fighter pilot in 1984. After his schooling at DM School and Kendriya Vidyalaya-1 in Bhubaneswar, he joined the NDA.
Patnaik was awarded the Vayu Sena Medal (Gallantry) for his exceptional courage and bravery while flying the Mirage 2000 aircraft for bombing missions on the enemy positions at Muntho Dhalo, Tiger Hill and Muskoh Nala during the Kargil War in 1999.
The air force officer had carried out the first-ever night laser-guided bomb strike on Tiger Hill at 2.20 am on June 28 and achieved a direct hit paving the way for the Army to capture the hill. He flew 27 operational missions, which included nine live bombing sorties in the Kargil sector during ‘Operation Rakshak’.
On the 3rd of October, 2021, Air Marshal Dilip Kumar Patnaik assumed charge as the air officer commanding in-chief of Eastern Air Command of the IAF.
During his illustrious career spanning over three decades, Patnaik held several crucial positions in IAF and was actively involved during the Balakot operation.