HomeNirmal Chandra Suri PVSM AVSM VM ADC CAS

Nirmal Chandra Suri PVSM AVSM VM ADC CAS

Start Date: 
Wednesday, July 31, 1991
End Date: 
Saturday, July 31, 1993


      1825 Sector 17A,
      Gurgaon - 122 001,

Date of Birth : 26 July, 1933 


    Awarded Param Vishisht Seva Medal. 
    Awarded Ati Vishisht Seva Medal. 
    Awarded Vayu Sena Medal. 
    Awarded Highest Air Force peacetime Medal by IRAQI Air Force.


    Shiromani Award for excellence in the field of defence. 
    Vijay Shree for enriching human life and outstanding attainments (Internal Friendship Society of India). 
    Bharat Jyoti. 
    The Millennium Award. 
    The Glory of India International Gold Medal. 
    The International Gold Star medal for promoting 'Universality of Faith'. 
    Outstanding Global Punjabi Award - 2010
    "Ambassador of Peace" award from the Inter-Religious and International Federation for World Peace (London).


     Honorary ADC to the President of India.


    Education St Xavier's School, Calcutta. 
    Prince of Wales Royal Indian Military College, Dehradun. 
    Allahabad University - M Sc. in Military History 
    Intercultural University Netherlands - Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D) on "Contemporary Global Eco-politics and Value Systems". 


    Graduated from Joint Services Wing (forerunner of National Defence Academy). 
    Graduated from Administrative Staff College, Bella Vista. 
    Qualified Flying Instructor (Category A1) and Pilot Attack Instructor. 

    Membership of Professional Bodies

    Fellow of Aeronautical Engineering Society of India 
    United Services Institute 
    India International Centre


Indian Air Force 


Air Chief Marshal NC Suri (ACM Suri) joined the Defence Services from the Prince of Wales Royal Indian Military College; through the First Course of the Joint Services Wing (the precursor of today's National Defence Academy (NDA). In the 57thPilot's Course, he passed out as the Academy Under Officer and was commissioned in the Indian Air Force as a fighter pilot on15 March 1952. 

Junior Officer Service 

ACM Suri started his Operational career by flying Tempest and Spitfire of Second World War vintage. He served as a combat pilot in 4, 2, 20, 27 and 7 Squadron. As a young pilot, he attended Flying Instructors' School where he attained the highest category of Qualified Flying Instructor - A1 Category. He was the youngest officer to attain this coveted category. He did two years staff tenure at the NDA, before returning to Flying Instructors' School on an instructional tenure. In 1960, he completed the Pilot Attack Instructor Course and was awarded the Pilot Attack Instructor (PAI) symbol. 

Middle Management 

ACM Suri is highly experienced on front-line fighter aircraft. In 1962 war with China, he flew a number of missions. Thereafter, he took an active part in both the1965 and 1971 Indo-Pakistan wars. He commanded two fighter squadrons, 20 and then 7 Squadron during the 1971 War. He was actively associated with 7 Sqn not only as a CO in 1971 war but also flew with 7 Sqn as PAI during 1962 China conflict and in the 1965 war. He was awarded the Vayu Sena Medal in 1969 for professional abilities of an exceptional order, where-in he conceived and was personally involved in a unique modification of 230 gallon fuel tanks from inboard to outboard pylons on the Hunter aircraft. He also served as an examiner on the Aircrew Examining Board for over three years and has the distinction of serving as an examiner on all the flights of AEB. He was the pioneer member of the Directorate of Air Staff Inspection for over three years. Between July 1969 and July 1971, he was deputed to Iraqi Air Force as its Chief Instructor (Flying), where, for exceptional services, the highest Air Force peacetime Iraqi Air Force award of that country was conferred upon him. 

Command Appointments 

ACM Suri commanded Air Force Station Hindon (Aug 1974 - January 1976). For successful command of the station, he was the youngest officer to be detailed for NDC course. A few years later he commanded Air Force Station Pune (January 1979- February 1982), thus commanding two premier Indian Air Force bases. As Base Commander, he was called upon to provide leadership for substantial numbers of personnel, whilst effectively managing resources worth many millions. During his tenure at Pune, then under Central Air Command, the IAF required the rapid integration of the newly inducted MiG-21 BIS as its front-line fighter aircraft. During his three year command, the station won all the 12 trophies of Central Air Command, continuously for those three years. Under his guidance, the process of consolidation and integration of this potent fighter was carried out; for his success in this demanding job, improving cost effectiveness and the overall operational status of the Indian Air Force, he was awarded the Ati Vishisht Seva Medal in 1982. 

Higher Management 

ACM Suri has held senior staff appointments at Air Headquarters including Director of Air Defence from July 1972 - August 1974, responsible for policy formation, planning and control of all Air Force air defence operations and plans, to ensure optimum utilisation of resources during peace and war. He then completed the National Defence College Course in 1976, prior to appointment as Director of Intelligence from August 1977 - August 1979 responsible for co-coordinating and controlling the organization and dissemination of air intelligence, collating and analyzing all issues having any intelligence implications. The post also required the formulation and direction of policies regarding Indian Air Force security, with emphasis on counter-intelligence, while simultaneously liaising with local representatives of foreign Air Forces and the projection of the Indian Air Force. 

On promotion to Air Vice Marshal, ACM Suri was posted as Senior Air Staff Officer of the Central Air Command, IAF, coincident with the induction of the Mirage-2000 front-line fighter aircraft into the Indian Air Force. This aircraft was to be based at Gwalior and the necessary infrastructure had to be created in record time to transform a routine Base Repair Depot into the foremost fighter base of the Indian Air Force. In addition, AN-32 and IL-76 transport aircraft were inducted in 1984 and 1985, and he undertook the task of establishing these fleets as operational units. 

Subsequently, on promotion to Air Marshal he was posted to Air Headquarters as Air Officer-in-Charge Personnel where he was responsible for all aspects of manpower management including recruitment, training, career management and retirement of about 2,00,000 Air Force personnel comprising officers, airmen and civilians - both industrial and non-industrial. For his outstanding achievements and services of a most distinguished order, he was awarded Param Vishisht Seva Medal in 1987. 

From Air Headquarters he returned to Allahabad as Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Central Air Command, IAF. This Command has the largest area of operation and holds on its strength the most potent and modern aircraft of the Indian Air Force, in air combat as also transport support roles. The aircraft include the Mirage-2000, Jaguar, the giant IL-76 and multipurpose AN-32. The assignment calls for management of these highly capital-intensive fleets as well as tens of thousands of military and civilian personnel and their families. The annual expenditure runs into thousands of crores (1 Crore = 10 Million) excluding cost of infrastructure, spares, overhauled. The transport fleet remains committed on a daily basis to provide support to civil and military agencies wherever and whenever required. Later, under his stewardship the Command undertook the mammoth task of inducting the IPKF into SriLanka and supporting this force during its operations. 

On 1st March 1988, Air Chief Marshal NC Suri took over the mantle of Vice Chief of the Air Staff, Indian Air Force. In this capacity he was required to oversee all operational aspects of the Air Force covering the entire gamut of offensive and defensive strategies and tactics, transport support and other such endeavors. The task involved continuous macro-level monitoring of the rapidly changing military situation, developments in our neighboring countries and evaluating threats for input at the highest-level of the Govt. As VCAS, he was the first Air Marshal to be sent to Pacific Command for Pacific Chiefs Conference. In the absence of CAS, the Maldives operation took place, which he personally directed. 

Air Chief Marshal Suri was appointed Chief of the Air Staff on 1st August 1991 after 41 years in uniform and headed the fourth largest Air Force in the world. He continued to indulge in his passion for flying by traveling the length and breadth of India on aircraft which he piloted himself on a regular basis. These include the Boeing-737, HS-748, AN-32 and many types of helicopters including Cheetah/ Chetak, Bell and Mi-8/ Mi-17. He has been in touch with flying the Mirage-2000 and MiG-29, the state-of-the-art aircraft in the IAF inventory as also the giant IL-76 transport aircraft. He has also been the Commodore Commandant of 20 Squadron, the famous Thunderbolt, who form the Air Force aerobatics team. The other high lights of his tenure as CAS, apart from operational preparedness, Flight Safety, Joint Operations, Quality of Training in the Air Force etc. were:- 

  • Induction of Women Officers. The first batch of women officers was commissioned by ACM Suri. Approval of the entire case for induction of women into various branches of IAF was obtained from the Government in 2� months of originating the case.
  • Diamond Jubilee Celebrations of IAF (1992). ACM Suri introduced the Air Force song "Desh pukare jab sabko". This was institutionalised after Dr. Shankar Dayal Sharma, the then President of India, reviewed the Diamond Jubliee Air Force Day Parade.
  • General Salute to other Chiefs. This was introduced at the Diamond Jubilee Parade, to pay respect to other serving Chiefs. 
  • Interaction with CAS. Introduced a system of interaction of junior officers (from various establishments) with CAS through 'call-on', to share their views and vision for the IAF. 
  • Inter Services Co-operation. The inter services co-operation and camaraderie was of exceptionally high standard because other two Chiefs were also from first course of JSW. 
  • Retired Fraternity. Recognition and respect to the retired fraternity of Air Force was institutionalized, by inviting them for various Air Force functions/celebrations. 
  • Pilot-in-Command. In his career span of over four decades he has flown almost 85 different types of aircraft. Throughout his tenure as CAS, he captained all the aircraft which he flew whether fighter, transport or helicopters. In addition, he also flew F-16, F-15, Mirage-2000-5 and Tornado among other aircraft in different foreign countries during his visits abroad. He has more than 6300 hours of total flying, with the bulk on fighters. 
  • Aircraft Induction. Though there was no budgetary allocation for procurement of new aircraft, the case for AJT was resurrected. Additionally, on the up-gradation of MiG-21 BIS to BISON, the government was advised by ACM that it was not a good long term solution. However, since funds were not available for procurement of new aircraft, government will prevailed. 

Post - Retirement 

ACM Suri continued to acquire higher learning by achieving a Doctorate in Philosophy at the age of 63 years from Netherlands. After retirement he became the chairman of the organizing committee for the first Air Show held in India (Bangalore). He also served on the board of Directors of a number of companies, financial institutions, Hotels/Resorts, Banks (ING Baring and Gresham Mercantile) as well as on the Board of Governors of three educational institutions. In addition to the above he was Chairman (International) of the Non-Resident Indian Institute for two years. 

In January 2003, he resigned from the above mentioned boards and institutions. His interests now lie in the promotion of spirituality and religious studies, which do not have a bias to parochialism. Apart from reading and writing articles, he has also been frequently addressing gatherings at religious and philanthropic fora, (inclusive of churches and synagogues) not only in India, but also in many other countries some of which are United Kingdom, Australia, Italy, France Geneva etc. His primary thesis lies in "Right Living in society - Values in action", commonality of enunciation of different faiths, religious harmony and tolerance etc among people of all religions.


Air Chief Marshal