Wing Commander Kothapalli Venkata Rama Raju (18573) F (P) was commissioned on 06 December 86. The officer is a Fighter Combat Leader who was awarded the Sword of Honour in the course. He is an alumnus of the Defence Services Staff College and a Qualified Flying Instructor, fully operational on MiG-21 FL, MiG-21 Bis, MiG-29, Su-30 K and Su-30 MKI ac with over 3000 hrs of flying experience. Presently, he is the Commanding Officer of 24 Squadron, Air Force since 05 July 2004.
The officer was part of the core team to be trained in Russia for induction of Su-30K aircraft in the IAF in 1997. Subsequently, he became the Flt Cdr of the first ever Su-30 MKI Sqn. With his vast experience as O i/c Air Combat Tactics Development at TACDE he was instrumental in developing the air combat tactics for the Su-30 K and Su-30 MKI. After assuming command, he operationalised the Sqn at its new location and formulated the concepts towards exploiting the op potential of the SU-30 aircraft. He upgraded the op status of 16 pilots to F/Op and 04 pilots to Op day status and trained 24 pilots in air-to-air refueling. Further, he contributed effectively in several international exercises like ExSindex with the F-16's of Singapore Air Force, Ex-Garuda-Il with the French Air Force in France and Ex-Cope India-05 with the USAF at Kalaikunda. The high mark of the officer's leadership was the unblemished induction and de-induction of the unit to France involving an inter-continental deployment of six Sukhoi30K aircraft for the first time by the IAF. In all these high level exercises with foreign air forces, the unit under his dynamic leadership truly epitomised the spirit and professional competence of the IAF. The Sqn, throughout maintained its fighting edge with 100% serviceability. In essence, the officer tested and validated the IAF's doctrinal viability of safely undertaking such strategic operations. The initiative, involvement, meticulous planning, coordination and importantly the successful execution of these exercises can singularly be attributed to the dynamism, foresight and leadership of the officer.
For his exceptional leadership, professional acumen and exceptional devotion to duty, the Hon'ble President is pleased to award 'Vayu Sena Medal' to Wing Commander Kothapalli Venkata Rama Raju.