The first batch of the much-awaited five Rafale fighter jets that took off from France on July 27 will reach India today around 2 PM. In the moment of euphoria over the arrival of one of world's best fighter jets, Indian social media users were quick to point out the important role played by Hilal Ahmad Rather in the quick delivery of Rafale.
Air Commodore Hilal Ahmad Rather is presently India’s Air Attaché to France. Hilal hails from South Kashmir's Anantnag district. He became India's first pilot to see off the batch of Rafale jets from France to India on July 27. Reports suggest that he played a crucial part in early delivery of the Rafales, and was previously associated with the weaponisation of the Rafale jets according to the Indian requirements.
Hilal was commissioned in Indian Air Force as a fighter pilot on December 17, 1988. He became flight lieutenant in 1993, wing commander in 2004, group captain in 2016 and air commodore in 2019.
Recipient of Vayu Sena Medal and Vishisht Seva medal, Hilal has a record of 3,000 accident-free flying hours on different aircraft.
An October 2019 video was also shared widely where he was preparing for Shashtra Puja along with Group Captain Anand, in presence of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh.
India had signed a deal worth over ₹60,000 crore with France in September 2016 for 36 Rafales to meet the emergency requirements of the IAF.