Air Chief Marshal Idris Hasan Latif

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1923-2018: Biographical notes

Syed Akbar, Latif: Patriot who got IAF soaring, May 1, 2018: The Times of India

Young flag officer Idris Hasan Latif greets Queen mother on the Victory in Europe (VE) Day in 1946. Princess Elizabeth is on the left
From: Syed Akbar, Latif: Patriot who got IAF soaring, May 1, 2018: The Times of India

Air Chief Marshal Idris Hasan Latif was perhaps the only officer associated with three different air forces and participated in several battles, including World War II.

Born on June 9, 1923, Latif was commissioned into the air force in January 1942. He served in the Royal Indian Air Force and Royal Air Force before being part of the Indian Air Force. He also trained pilots of the Indonesian Air Force. Latif is the only Muslim to have served as the head of any of the three wings of the Indian armed forces.

A product of Nizam’s College, Latif was appointed to the top post in the Indian Air Force on September 1, 1978 on the retirement of Air Chief Marshal H Moolgavkar. He retired from the service on August 31, 1981.

Latif was decorated with Param Vishisht Seva Medal in 1971 for his role in the 1971 India-Pakistan war. He was instrumental in the procurement of Jaguar strike aircraft, MiG-23 and MiG-25 aircraft. After retiring from IAF, Latif was appointed as governor of Maharashtra and also served as Indian ambassador to France.

Latif was associated with a number of philanthropic activities. P Anuradha Reddy, city historian and an authority on Indian aviation, described Latif as a “great human being”. “Latif was a patriot to the core. He had rare qualities,” she said. At the time of partition, he chose IAF though he was reportedly urged by some to join the Pakistan Air Force. Latif was instrumental in modernising the Indian Air Force.

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