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Air Marshal Pankaj M Sinha takes over as Chief of IAF's Western Command

NEW DELHI (PTI): Air Marshal Pankaj Mohan Sinha on Sunday took charge as the commander-in-chief of Indian Air Force's Western Air Command that looks after the security of the air space in the sensitive Ladakh sector as well as some other parts of north India.

He succeeds Air Marshal S Prabhakaran who retired from service after serving the force for more than 39 years.

Hours after taking charge of the Delhi-headquartered command, Air Marshal Sinha visited the strategically located Thoise and Leh air bases in the Ladakh region where he reviewed the overall operational preparedness of the IAF, officials said.

The Indian and Chinese militaries have been locked in a bitter standoff for over 30 months in eastern Ladakh.

Air Marshal Sinha is a graduate of National Defence Academy, Pune, and was commissioned into the IAF as a fighter pilot in Jun 1985. He is an alumnus of the prestigious Defence Services Staff College, Wellington. An experienced fighter pilot and a category 'A' qualified flying instructor, Air Marshal Sinha has more than 4,500 hours of flying experience.

In a career spanning over 37 years, the Air Marshal has held several important command and staff appointments. These included Commanding Officer of a fighter squadron, Chief Instructor (flying) at a flying station, Air Officer commanding of a prestigious Air Force station, Air Assistant to Chief of the Air Staff and Assistant Chief of Air Staff Operations (Offensive) at Air headquarters.

He is the Commodore Commandant of a premier fighter squadron and was Director General Air Operations at the Air headquarters prior to taking over the present appointment, according to the IAF.

The Air Officer is a recipient of 'Vishist Seva Medal' and 'Ati Vishist Seva' Medal.

The IAF's Western Command has been ramping up its surveillance and operational preparedness in eastern Ladakh in view of the lingering border row with China in the region.

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