Group Captain Jose Mathappan (14278) Flying (Pilot) was commissioned in the flying branch on 13 Dec 75. He is a Qualified Flying Instructor and a test pilot. He has commanded a Fighter Squadron and has over 3000 hrs of service flying in the fighter stream. Presently, he is Joint Director Aircraft Upgrade and has been working on the MiG-21 Bis Upgrade Programme at Air Headquarter since Jul 97.
The MiG-21 Bis Upgrade Programme involves the integration of a large number of modern avionics of Russian, Western and indigenous origin. Such a major upgrade of a combat aircraft has been attempted for the first time by the IAF. Management of this 626 million-Dollar programme had been far from smooth due to the complex interplay of numerous factors. Gp. Capt. Mathappan, through complete involvement and commitment, was able to familiarise himself with the intricate requirements of the programme in a short period of time. Even though there was no precedence or model to learn from, the officer was quick in grasping the managerial essential of the programme and identify the bottlenecks. Ever since his appointment, considerable progress has been made towards successful completion of many milestones through relentless effort and clear focus. The management task required interaction with foreign vendors and development agencies in Russia and India, to meet the time-bound requirements of the development work in Russia and for setting up the upgrade facilities at HAL (ND), concurrently. This complex task, involving a large number of varied inputs, was executed with a very small group consisting of only two officers and few airmen. All this has been possible only because of the single minded dedication and involvement of Gp Capt Mathappan, above and beyond the call of normal duty.
In recognition of his distinguished service and dedication of the highest order in the management of the MiG-21 Bis Upgrade Programme, the Hon'ble President is pleased to award 'Vishisht Seva Medal' to Group Captain Jose Mathappan.