Born in the south Kashmir's Anantnag district to middle class parents, Hilal's father, late Mohammad Abdullah Rather retired as a deputy superintendent of police (Dy SP) in J&K police department.
He has three sisters and is the only son of his parents.
Hilal studied in Sainik School in Nagrota town of Jammu district. He was commissioned in IAF as a fighter pilot on December 17, 1988.
He became flight lieutenant in 1993, wing commander in 2004, group captain in 2016 and air commodore in 2019.
He graduated from defence services staff college (DSSC). He also graduated from air war college (USA) with distinction. He won the sword of honour in NDA.
Hilal is recipient of Vayu Sena medal and Vishisht Seva medal.
With an impeccable record of 3,000 accident-free flying hours on mirage-2000, MIG-21 and Kiran aircraft, Hilal's name will now forever be associated with Rafale