Hilal Ahmad Rather : First Indian pilot to fly Rafale jet


By Syed Ali Mujtaba

The first batch of five Rafale fighter jets will arrive at Ambala air base on Wednesday July 29, 2020. The aircraft flew out of the Dassault Aviation Merignac airbase in French port city of Bordeaux on Monday July 27 2020, to arrive in India covering a distance of nearly 7,000 km.

The man behind the quick delivery of Rafale jets is touted to be Air Commodore Hilal Ahmad Rather, who is currently serving as an Air Attaché to France.

India and France had inked an inter-governmental agreement in September 2016 for 36 Rafale jets worth Rs 59,000 crore.  Defence Minister Rajnath Singh had gone to Merignac airbase on October 9, 2019 to perform ‘Puja’ to get the early delivery of the first batch of Rafale fighter jets purchased by India.

At that time it was said that it would take a minimum for 2-3 yrs for the plane to arrive in India. Thanks to Air Commodore Hilal Ahmad Rather the momentous moment for India has arrived earlier than expected.

The key person in fast forwarding the Rafale delivery is Air Commodore Hilal Ahmad Rather and his team who played a big role in weaponizing the jets as per Indian conditions and they worked upon further enhancements of the planes and made it ready for delivery in a record time.

Air Commodore Hilal Ahmad Rather is a decorated officer of the Indian Air Force and has the distinction to be the first IAF officer to fly a Rafale jet. He hails from the Bakshiabad area of Anantnag district of Kashmir.

Rather, he was commissioned in IAF as a fighter Pilot in the Flying branch on 17 December 1988. He was promoted as Flight lieutenant in 1993, Wing Commander in 2004, Group Captain in 2010 and Air Commodore in 2016.

Air Commodore Rather is a Fighter Combat Leader and a qualified Flying Instructor. He has more than 3000 hours of accident free flying on MiG-21s, Mirage-2000 and Kiran aircraft. He has commanded a Mirage-2000 Squadron and also a front-line Air Force Base.

Rather received the Vayu Sena Medal as a Wing Commander in 2010. He received the Vishisht Seva Medal in 2016 as a Group Captain.

Air Commodore Rather has won several awards. He has won the Sword of honor in NDA Khadakwasla, Pune.  He has graduated from Defence Services Staff College (DSSC) Wellington where he later served as a Directing Staff. He further graduated from the Air War College in the USA with academic distinction.

India has ordered 36 Rafale fighter jets from France in a deal worth Rs 59,000 crore in September 2016. All the jets are expected to arrive in India by September 2022. , The Indian Air Force has made preparations for receiving the Rafale jet planes. It is ready with required infrastructure and training of pilots and other such perquisites.

The Rafale is a twin-jet fighter aircraft able to operate from both an aircraft carrier and a shore base. The manufacturers describe it as a fully versatile aircraft which can carry out all combat aviation missions to achieve air superiority and air defence, close air support, in-depth strikes, reconnaissance, anti-ship strikes and nuclear deterrence.

The Rafale fighter jets are being projected as a “game changer” in the region in the realm of air combat. It is seen as a shot in the arm for Indian defence forces amid the ongoing crisis with China.

Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba2007@gmail.com


17 thoughts on “Hilal Ahmad Rather : First Indian pilot to fly Rafale jet

  1. I am a Proud Indian and respectful Salute this Proud Indian Soilder for the honour to be the First Pilot to fly this Priced Aircraft.

  2. First and foremost he is a proud Indian first, article writer highlighted his religion, which is not necessary..
    He was promoted and trusted by IAF for his experience and his dedication. We need many people to come forward to join forces and teach world about India’s great traditionas and our inclusive culture ! Jai Hind

  3. Vry very proud of Air Commodore Hailail Rather..
    Enviable qualifications. I salute the decorated Officer.

  4. He was from Sainik School Nagrota, J&K and he won Sword of Honor in Air Force Academy not NDA, please correct. Thank you. Proud to be from Sainik School. Four of the five pilots belongs to Sainik School.

  5. Muslims should perform their duty and carry on serving the nation irrespective of returns by the people and comments by the other’s.

  6. Just because he is a muslim the writer feels the need to write this article. Maybe he thinks-
    – it is rare for a Muslim (that too Kashmiri muslim) to be part on Indian defence services
    – only Muslims should be glorified which ever filed or work they are in ( Indian defence or Shaheenbagh)
    – share this as an example to other Mulims to educate themselves and serve their country

    There are people of other denominations as well in the Indian Defence forces.

  7. Great ! Great ! Great! Hilal Ahmad. I extend heartfelt salute to you.
    A high order warrior, a true patriot to be role model to all. A sacred duty you have performed. Our country is our home. It’s safety and security is more than our life.
    May god bless you to serve the country more.

    1. Great. It is a proud event for any Indian. The Indian media not highlighted this significant information while the Int l media publicised it.

  8. “Rather” is a Muslim name??? Religion raises its ugly head once again and people follow. Like moths to a flame:(

  9. Hilal ,is an excellent example for all Indians.We are all inclusive ,for Indian defence forces, is not biased to any region,language, and religion. We are all Indians, keeping our mother and our motherland safe is our privilege and duty.
    Even our life and safety come last.Why people bringing religion to Indian defence force is not known?
    In Defence, the people are much above this silly dividing elements like politics and religions.Politics is a personal inclination, religion is a person’s relation to his creator.Just leave it at that ,stirring up emotions are the game of media, Media have no place in defence force. Defence people, need not answer to media ,media is to be banned from defence people. Because media have a record of turning criminal to be a national leader, and national leader to be a criminal.

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