Air Chief Marshal Idris Hasan Latif was Chief of Air Staff of the Indian Air Force from 1978 to 1981. He also served as the Governor of Maharashtra during 1981-85 and later as the Indian ambassador to France (till 1988). He was the first Indian Muslim to become the head of the Indian Air Force.
Latif was born in Hyderabad, Andra Pradesh into a Sulaimani Bohra family in 1923. He was educated at Nizam College, Hyderabad and was commissioned into the Royal Indian Air Force in 1942. He took part in the Burma Campaign on the Arakan Front during World War II. Later he was a member of the Indian Advisory Group to Indonesia that helped the Indonesian Air Force induct jet fighters. Latif is a Graduate of the Defence Services Staff College and the National Defence College and served as Air Defence Commander and Senior Air Staff Officer in Eastern Air Command. During 1961-65 he was the Air Attaché at the Indian embassy in Washington D.C. During the 1971 Indo-Pakistani war, he was Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Plans). In 1971 he was awarded the Param Vishisht Seva Medal in 1971. He led Air Force Relief operations during the Patna floods in 1975. In 1985 IAF submitted the Air Staff Requirements (ASR) for LCA in October 1985.
Shri & Smt. Air Chief Marshal Idris Hasan Latif 6th Mar 1982 - 16th Apr 1985
He is married to Bilkees Latif, a social worker.
Source : Wikipedia
Air Chief Marshal Idris Hassan Latif was appointed as the Chief of Air Staff on the retirement of Air Chief Marshal H. Moolgavkar on 31 August 1978. Latif was born on 09 June 1923 at Hyderabad, Deccan. Educated at the Nizam's College, Hyderabad, Latif was the son of the Chief Engineer of the Hyderabad state, Mr. Hasan Latif.
Idris Latif joined the Royal Indian Air Force in 1941 at the age of 18 and was commissioned in 1942. On completion of his training at Ambala, he was posted to the No.2 Coastal Defence Flight in Karachi, where he flew vintage biplane aircrafts like the Wapiti, Audaxes and Harts, on Anti-Submarine flights over the Arabian Sea.
During 1943-44, he was one of the few Indian pilots to be seconded to the Royal Air Force in the United Kingdom. There he underwent training on more contemporary aircraft like the Hurricane and Spitfire, with the Operational squadrons of the RAF. He returned to India in 1944 and took part in the Burma campaign, flying the Hawker Hurricane for No.3 Squadron. This involved flying interdiction sorties against ground targets.
After the campaign, Latif was posted to Madras, but soon he joined No.9 Squadron in Burma, again flying the Hawker Hurricane. Under the command of Sqn. Ldr. Asghar Khan, he was good friends with both his CO and another flamboyant pilot, Flt. Lt. Noor Khan. Both the pilots went on to become Chiefs of Air Staff of the Pakistan Air Force.
When Partition bought with it the division of the armed forces, Latif as a Muslim officer was faced with the choice of joining both India or Pakistan, but there was no making up of minds for him. He was very clear that his future lay with India. Even though both Asghar as well as Noor Khan called him up to persuade Latif to join them in the fledgling Pakistan Air Force, Latif made it clear that for him, religion and country were not interlinked. It was no surprise that Latif made his way to become the first Muslim Chief of Air Staff of the Indian Air Force.
After the war, Latif on, promotion to the Squadron Leader, became the Commanding Officer of No.4 Oorials, flying the Hawker Tempest. He led the first fly past over New Delhi, after India turned a republic in 1950. Afterwards Latif had the honour of being nominated to Indonesia along with two other officers to help induct Vampire fighters into the newly-born Indonesian Air Force. After returning from this assignment, Latif attended the Defence Services Staff College at Wellington.
In 1961, Latif was sent to the United States of America as the Air Attaché to the Indian Ambassador there. Latif also held the dual responsibility of Air Attaché to the Indian High Commissioner's Office in Canada. Even though international assignments as Air Attaché are limited to a duration of three years, Air Marshal Arjan Singh asked Latif to continue as Air Attaché for a second tenure.
Latif returned from the USA in 1965, just as war clouds were brewing in the Indian subcontinent. Latif was posted to Eastern Air Command as the Air Defence Controller and later was the Senior Air Staff Officer. Soon after in 1966, Latif took over as Station Commander Lohegaon Airbase at Pune. Lohegaon had the unique distinction of having, fighters, bombers, four-engined transport aircraft and WW2 Liberator aircraft, all of which Latif flew from time to time. After Air Chief Marshal P.C. Lal became CAS, Latif moved to Air HQ in the newly created post of Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Plans) in the rank of Air Vice Marshal, and in this capacity he carried out the onerous tasks of making first line assessment of frontline combat squadrons and the modernisation plans of the air force. For his role, Latif received the PVSM in 1971.
During the 1971 War, Latif was still the ACAS (Plans). He was keenly involved in flying to the frontline squadrons and getting first hand information on the progress of the war and the requirements of the units if any. Latif was in the Eastern Sector at Shillong when the surrender in East Pakistan took place. In 1974, Latif became an Air Marshal and held the appointment of Air Officer In-Charge of Administration at Air HQ. He became AOC-in-C Central Air Command afterwards. One of the memorable landmarks of this tenure was the Air Force relief operations under his stewardship during the Patna floods in 1975. Under his guidance, the helicopter pilots flew as many as 20 sorties per day to carry out humanitarian tasks. After a short while, he took over Maintenance Command. Latif then joined Air HQ as the Vice Chief of Air Staff, which post he held till 1978, when he took over as Chief of Air Staff of the Indian Air Force.
As the first Muslim Chief of Air Staff of the IAF, Latif was involved fully in the re-equipment and modernisation plans of the air force. He convinced the government to approve the procurement of the Jaguar strike aircraft, a proposal which was lying dormant for over 8 years. He also held negotiations with the Russians and saw the induction of the MiG-23 and later, the MiG-25 aircraft into the IAF. Flying has always been a passion to Latif, and throughout his tenure, he never lost an opportunity to fly. In fact right up to the end of his career in the Air Force, Air Chief Marshal Latif was interested in flying and more flying. One of the last acts before retirement was to fly in the trisonic MiG-25, which was then just assembled from a semi-knocked down condition by the Air Force personnel.
Latif retired in 1981, after which he held the gubernatorial posts of Governor of Maharastra and Indian Ambassador to France. On completion of the tenure, he left France in 1988 and has settled back in his home place in Hyderabad.
Air Chief Marshal Idris Hasan Latif, was appointed Chief of the Air Staff with effect from September 1, 1978 and relinquished this appointment on his retirement from the Indian Air Force after nearly 40 years of distinguished service. As an officer in the flying branch of the Air Force, his operational experience covered a wide spectrum at various levels of responsibilities. He has flown several thousand hours on fighter, bomber and transport aircraft, ranging from the pre-Second World War Vintage bi-planes to the supersonic MiGs and India-made Maruts.
Born on June 9, 1923, he was commissioned into the Air Force in 1942. He was then 18 and studying at Nizam’s College, Hyderabad. The Air Chief’s father, Mr. Hasan Latif, was Chief Engineer of Hyderabad State and after his retirement he became Principal of Osmania Engineering College.
On completion of his training at Ambala, he was posted to the Coastal flight at Karachi to carry out anti-submarine duties. He was among the first few pilots to be sent to England in 1943 for training on Hurricanes and Spitfire fighters which were soon to be inducted into the Indian Air Force.
Air Chief Marshal Latif had his first taste of war in the air when as a ground attack pilot in a Hurricane Squadron, he took part in the Burma Campaign on the Arakan Front in the Second World War. Earlier in 1943-44, he flew with the Royal Air Force in the United Kingdom. Soon after the war, he was back in Burma with No. 9 Squadron. The same Squadron now flying the famous Sabre Killer Gnats is today proud of having him as its Commodore Commandant.
He was only 26 years old and a Squadron Leader when, at the dawn of Independence, he commanded No. 4 Squadron equipped with Tempest fighters. This distinction was followed by another honour conferred upon him in recognition of his rich experience of operational flying. He was sent on a special mission to Indonesia as a member of our Advisory Group which helped the Indonesian Air Force induct jet fighters.
A Graduate of the Defence Services Staff College and the National Defence College, Air Chief Marshal Latif served as Air Defence Commander and Senior Air Staff Officer in Eastern Air Command. During 1 971 operations, he was Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Plans), and in that capacity he carried out the onerous task of making first-hand assessment of the problems and achievements of frontline squadrons and the modernisation plans of the Air Force.
For nearly five years (1961 -1965), he was our Air Attache in Washington and was concurrently accredited to Canada and it was during his tenure there that he flew the USAF, F-S fighter.
On his promotion to the rank of Air Marshal in January 1974, he was posted as Air Officer Incharge Administration at Air Headquarters. Later he took over as Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Central Air Command and subsequently Maintenance Command.
In May 1977 he was appointed Vice-Chief of the Air Staff which post he held until he assumed office as Chief of the Air Staff. In recognition of his distinguished service of the most exceptional order, Air Chief Marshal Latif was awarded the Param Vishisht Seva Medal in 1971.
Air Chief Marshal Latif combines in his dynamic personality an extraordinary measure of the operational with the humanitarian. One of the memorable landmarks in his career was the Air Force Relief operations under his stewardship during the Patna floods in 1975. Under his inspiring guidance and directions, the helicopter pilots flew as many as 20 sorties a day to carry out humanitarian tasks that called for great precision and accuracy and flying skill of a very high order. All available air and ground crews were inducted into the operation—an operation which earned them the gratitude of the people saved from the ravages of the floods.
Flying has always been the first passion of Air Chief Marshal Latif and in all his higher appointments in the Air Force, he always found time to carry out as much flying as his other onerous responsibilities would permit. His interest in flying continued till almost the very last day in office and during the course of the recent months he made it a special point to fly the latest aircraft inducted into the Air Force—Jaguar, MiG-23 and MiG-25. During his official visit to France in 1981, he also had an opportunity to fly the Mirage-2000.
Within a few days of his retirement from the Air Force, the Government has also announced his appointment as a Member of the reconstituted Public Enterprises Selection Board.
Air Chief Marshal Latif has also a long and intimate association with Maharashtra and its people. His forefathers came and settled in Bombay and their old family house Latifia can be seen on Pandita Ramabai Road and their property in Bombay extended right upto Chowpatty. For him also for many years Maharashtra was an important field of his active service in the Indian Air Force. It was in this State at Poona in the late ‘40s that he first commanded an operational squadron. Two decades later he returned to take over command of the Air Force at Poona which by then had become one of the most important operational base of the Air Force. Thereafter from the early ‘70s, right till the end of his career, his links with the State remained unbroken and intimate as Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Central Air Command, later Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Maintenance Command and finally as Chief of the Air Staff.
Air Chief Marshal Latif is fond of riding, and has been a keen player of Cricket and Tennis. Ever since he was a boy, his greatest passion, besides flying in later years, has been photography. His love for Urdu poetry is shared by his wife Bilkees Latif.
Though soft-spoken, Air Chief Marshal Latif is a strict disciplinarian and attaches great importance to punctuality as an attribute. He believes in the dignity of man—trusting human beings and reposing faith in their capabilities for achieving results. He encourages free debate to precede a decision but once it has been taken he expects complete compliance.
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