Group Captain Hitesh Haribhai Patel (14271) Flying (Pilot) was commissioned in the Flying Branch of the IAF on 13 Dec 1975. He successfully commanded a Mirage-2000 squadron and the Aircrew Examining Board. He was Command Flight Safety Officer and in-charge of Flying Operations at South Western Air Command Headquarters during Kargil operations. With over 3000 hrs of flying experience, he is a qualified Flying Instru ctor and a graduate of Defence Services Staff College and College of Defence Management. Gp Capt Patel was appointed as Director Weapons at Air HQ on 05 May 2003. He immediately prioritised the operational, technical and logistical tasks of the sub-directorate and incorporated several new and innovative procedures to enhance availability of weapons for training and to monitor the vast inventory of weapons and associated components. He, with his foresight and accurate planning coordinated delivery of conventional and guided weapons, without wastage, during Exercise Vayu Shakti-04 held at Pokharan Range. The demonstration reflected highest standards of professionalism and firepower of the Air Force. With his professional skills and analytical ability he pointed out the design deficiencies of the fuze, which caused a mid-air explosion of a bomb, and withheld its further use, thus, preventing possibility of further mishaps.
With his relentless efforts, he got the Russian side to accept the requirement of predespatch inspection of weapons, which was never agreed by Russians in earlier cases. He got the Israeli Military Industry (IMI), though not contractually obliged, to carry out additional trials of a weapon. This resulted in opening up of the weapon release envelop of the aircraft. Additionally, he also got the IMI to agree for payment of USD 80305/-, through government treasury, for the stores used during trials.
For distinguished service of high order, the Hon'ble President is pleased to award 'Vishisht Seva Medal' to Group Captain Hitesh Haribhai Patel.