New Delhi, Jan 01 (Agencies): Ace fighter pilot Air Marshal N A K Browne on Saturday assumed charge as the new Vice Chief of the Indian Air Force at the Air Headquarters here.

He was formerly the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief (AOC-in-C) of IAF's Western Air Command (WAC), the largest and the most vital operational command of the IAF. He has succeeded Air Marshal P K Barbora, who retired Friday.

Leading with a vision statement – "People First Mission Always", he had ensured that the Command continued to maintain greater interaction with its three affiliated Army Commands - the Northern Command, Western Command and the South Western Command, which resulted in the successful conduct of many joint exercises, such as the Yodha Shakti in May 2010, said and IAF release.

The command continues to provide round the year air support to the Army units deployed in the glacier/northern region as well.

With a commitment to enhancing the operational capability of WAC which occupies an important place in the modernisation process of the IAF, Browne stressed upon the infrastructure development especially in the northern region, induction and speedy operationalisation of new equipment, aviation and maintenance safety and welfare of the air warriors who are the greatest asset of the organisation.

Under his command and personal supervision, the first ever landing of an AN-32 aircraft took place at Nyoma, Advance Landing Ground (ALG) on September 18, 2009.

He oversaw the massive disaster relief efforts in the flood-affected Leh region, post cloudburst in August 2010 for dedicated casualty evacuation, relief efforts and transportation of heavy bridging and communication equipment in the Leh Region.

An alumnus of National Defence Academy, he is a fighter combat leader, who has also served as an instructor at the Tactics and Combat Development Establishment (TACDE) and Defence Services Staff College (DSSC), Wellington.

He has trained with the Royal Air Force (RAF) in the United Kingdom on Jaguar aircraft and commanded a Jaguar Squadron subsequently.

A graduate of Air Command and Staff College, USA, he has held many appointments that include Joint Director at Air War Strategy Cell at Air Headquarters, Chief Operations Officer and Air Officer Commanding of a SU-30 base, Air-I at Western Air Command and Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Intelligence) at Air Headquarters.

He was also responsible for establishing the Indian Defence Wing in Tel Aviv, Israel in April 1997 where he served as the Defence Attaché till July 2000.

From March 2007 to 31 May 2009, he functioned as the Deputy Chief of Air Staff at Air Headquarters, responsible for IAF’s major modernization programmes before taking over as the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief (AOC-in-C) of IAF’s Western Air Command.

Air Marshal Browne is a recipient of Param Vishist Seva Medal (PVSM), Ati Vishist Seva Medal (AVSM) and Vayu Sena Medal (VM).