Indian Air Force

The Indian Air Force (IAF) was established on October 8, 1932, as an auxiliary air force of the British Empire. After India gained independence in 1947, the IAF played a critical role in several conflicts, most notably in the four wars with Pakistan (1947, 1965, 1971, 1999) and the Chinese aggression in 1962.

During the 1971 Indo-Pak war, the IAF demonstrated its power with extensive air operations, leading to the creation of Bangladesh. Over the years, the IAF has modernized its fleet with advanced aircraft and weapons systems, becoming one of the world's most formidable air forces.

The IAF's primary role is to secure Indian airspace and conduct aerial warfare during armed conflict. It's a crucial pillar of India's national security, providing the necessary air power in times of conflict and peace. The IAF's capabilities in air power projection and strategic airlift are key to deter potential adversaries and support ground forces.

The IAF also provides disaster relief during natural calamities, and its aircraft are frequently called upon for humanitarian aid and evacuation missions. Therefore, the importance of the IAF goes beyond military engagements, playing an essential role in maintaining national security and stability.

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has a systematic structure that is designed to carry out various responsibilities efficiently and effectively. It is divided into various commands and branches, each with a specific role and purpose.

The IAF has seven operational and two functional commands, each headed by an Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief with the rank of Air Marshal.

  • The Western Air Command, headquartered in New Delhi, is the largest and the most crucial one, responsible for air operations along the western front with Pakistan.
  • The Eastern Air Command, based in Shillong, oversees operations in east and northeastern India and manages air defense during peace and war.
  • The Southern Air Command, stationed in Thiruvananthapuram, is primarily responsible for the air defense of South India.
  • The Central Air Command, headquartered in Prayagraj, oversees the air operations in the central region.
  • The South Western Air Command, located in Gandhinagar, provides air defense over the southwestern region.
  • Training Command, headquartered in Bangalore, is responsible for training and development.
  • Maintenance Command, based in Nagpur, manages the repair, maintenance, and serviceability of all air force equipment.
  • Each command comprises various wings, squadrons, and units, which in turn have specific aircraft and systems assigned to them based on their role and geographic location.

The IAF is also divided into different branches:

  • The Flying Branch includes the fighter pilots who fly combat missions, transport pilots who manage cargo and personnel transport, and helicopter pilots who conduct rescue and close support operations.
  • The Technical Branch is responsible for maintenance, repair, and efficient running of all aircraft and their equipment. Engineers in this branch work on aviation technology, electronics, and mechanical systems.
  • The Ground Duty Branch handles administration, logistics, meteorology, education, accounts, and more.
  • Each branch has its importance and plays a significant role in ensuring the smooth functioning of the IAF. This organized structure ensures that the IAF continues to protect and serve the nation efficiently.

Why Choose a Career in the IAF?

Choosing a career in the Indian Air Force (IAF) can be immensely rewarding for several reasons.

  • Serving the Nation: A career in the IAF offers a chance to serve the nation and protect its citizens. It brings a sense of pride and responsibility that few other professions can match.
  • Diverse Opportunities: The IAF provides diverse opportunities across several branches including the Flying, Technical, and Ground Duty branches. Whether you are an engineer, a pilot, or an administrator, the IAF has roles that cater to different skills and interests.
  • Professional Growth: The IAF offers unparalleled professional growth and continuous learning opportunities. With regular training and development programs, one can hone their skills and climb the ranks.
  • Technological Exposure: The IAF provides exposure to state-of-the-art aircraft, systems, and technologies. If you have an interest in aviation technology and aeronautics, the IAF offers an ideal platform to work with advanced machinery and equipment.
  • Adventure and Challenges: The IAF life is full of adventures and challenges. From flying combat missions to participating in rescue operations, every day brings new challenges and experiences.
  • Job Security and Benefits: A career in the IAF comes with job security and a number of benefits including housing, medical, education for children, post-retirement benefits, and more.
  • Personality Development: Life in the IAF develops discipline, leadership, teamwork, and other vital life skills. It shapes one’s character and personality, fostering personal growth and resilience.

In essence, a career in the Indian Air Force is not just a job, but a way of life filled with adventure, opportunities, and the noble responsibility of guarding the nation's skies.

Why Become an Aircraft Engineer in the IAF?

  • Pride and Respect: Working in the IAF as an aircraft engineer is a matter of great pride and respect. You get to serve your country and make sure its aircraft are safe and work well.
  • Learn a lot: This job gives you a chance to learn a lot and use technical knowledge in real life. You'll be working with some of the most advanced aircraft in the world.
  • Adventure and Challenges: A job in the IAF is full of adventure and challenges. It's a chance to learn new skills and grow as a person and in your career.
  • Job Security and Benefits: The IAF gives you job security, a good salary, medical benefits, housing facilities, and benefits after retirement.

How to Become an Aircraft Engineer in the IAF?

  • Education: You need to study Science in your 10+2 with Physics and Mathematics. After this, you can get a degree in aeronautical engineering or a similar field.
  • AFCAT: After getting your degree, you can apply for the Air Force Common Admission Test (AFCAT) for the Technical branch. If you pass, you will get training at the Air Force Academy.
  • University Entry Scheme (UES): If you are in the final year of your Engineering degree, you can apply for the IAF under the University Entry Scheme. If you are selected, you will be called for an interview.
  • Direct Entry: If you have graduated from certain top institutions like IITs and NITs, you can directly apply for the Technical branch in the IAF.

Remember, a job in the Indian Air Force is not only about flying. There are many jobs on the ground, like that of an Aircraft Engineer, that are very important and rewarding.


There are three entry levels: Officers, Airmen, and Non-Combatants (Enrolled) or NCs(E). The Officers can enter via the NDA, CDS, AFCAT, NCC, and Meteorology Entry. Airmen can enter through STAR (Scheduled Test for Airmen Recruitment), and NCs(E) can enter via Unit allocation.

The age limit varies according to the entry scheme and position. For instance, for NDA, the age limit is 16.5 to 19.5 years, and for CDS, it's 20 to 24 years. For AFCAT, the age limit is 20 to 24 years for Flying Branch and 20 to 26 years for Ground Duty branches.

Physical standards, including height, weight, and eye vision, vary according to different branches. A candidate must be physically fit according to prescribed standards.

Yes, women can join the IAF. They can join various branches such as Flying, Technical, Education, Administration, Logistics, Accounts, and more through AFCAT.

You can become a pilot in the IAF by qualifying through the NDA, CDS, or AFCAT entries, followed by the SSB interview and medical test. Then, selected candidates undergo pilot training.

The IAF's rank structure for Commissioned Officers, in descending order, is: Marshal of the Air Force, Air Chief Marshal, Air Marshal, Air Vice Marshal, Air Commodore, Group Captain, Wing Commander, Squadron Leader, Flight Lieutenant, and Flying Officer.

Life in the IAF is disciplined and filled with opportunities for professional growth, adventure, and the chance to serve the nation. It offers a balanced work-life situation with housing, education for children, and other benefits.

Yes, after Class 12, one can join the National Defence Academy (NDA) by qualifying through the NDA exam conducted by the UPSC, followed by the SSB interview.

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