Thiruvananthapuram | Air Marshal Balakrishnan Manikantan took over as the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief (AOC-in-C) of the Southern Air Command here a day ago, the Defence Ministry said on Tuesday. An impressive Guard of Honour was presented to the Air Marshal, who was commissioned in the Indian Air Force (IAF) in June 1986, on taking over the command, a Defence statement said.
He has flown over 5,400 hours on various types of helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft and is a Helicopter Combat Leader and a Type Qualified Flying Instructor, the statement said.
The Air Marshal has had instructional tenures at National Defence Academy and at Tactics and Air Combat Development Establishment (TACDE), commanded a frontline helicopter unit and two premier IAF stations, it said.
Besides that, he was also the Senior Air and Administrative Staff Officer (SAASO) of HQ Maintenance Command and of ACIDS Int-C at HQ IDS, which is responsible for international defence co-operation, it said.
Prior to taking over the charge of the Southern Air Command, the Air Marshal was the Senior Air Staff Officer at Eastern Air Command, handling air operations, the statement said.
Manikantan, who hails from Kottayam district of Kerala, is an alumnus of Sainik School Kazhakootam, Thiruvananthapuram and National Defence Academy, Pune and was commissioned into the Indian Air Force on June 7, 1986.
He is a recipient of the Presidential Awards of Ati Vishisht Seva Medal and Vayu Sena Medal, it said.