How to Join Indian Air Force - in Details

How to Join Indian Air Force - in Details
29-August 2018 2.00

How to Join Indian Air Force

Indian Air Force (IAF), the air arm of the Indian Defence Services, was officially established on October 8, 1932, to protect the Indian Sky. Its complement of personnel and aircraft assets ranks fourth amongst the airforces of the world. Its primary mission is to secure Indian airspace and to conduct aerial warfare during armed conflict. The President of India is the supreme commander of the Air Force. The rank structure of the Indian Air Force is based on the structure of the Royal Air Force. “Touch the sky with glory” is the motto of the Indian Air Force.
The various career opportunities available with Indian Air Force include both technical and non technical branches. Here we describe a brief Details about Indian Air Force. Whether you are a graduate or you have finished your schooling or you have passed your class tenth, Indian Air Force has an exciting career opportunity for you. No matter at what level you start your career, the Air Force gives you opportunities to learn and grow to newer heights. You can join the Indian Air Force as an officer in the flying, technical or the ground duty branches depending on his/her educational qualification.


The Air Force has the following branches:

1. Flying branch
This is the branch of the Air Force which actually flies the planes on operations and battles. Flying Branch consists of Pilots. Both men and women can become pilots in the Indian Air Force. If you join this branch you can become one of three kinds of pilot:

  • * Fighter pilot
  • * Helicopter pilot
  • * Transport pilot

You can get into the flying branch as a graduate [through CDS exam (men), through AFCAT exam (men & women), through NCC special entry (men)]. You can also get in after 10+2 by qualifying the NDA/ NA exam.

2. Ground duty
One of the main functions of this branch, in addition to control tower functions, is meteorological functions. Officers on ground duty are expected to keep pilots informed of weather conditions at all times. You can get into this branch by qualifying AFCAT.

3. Technical branch
This branch is concerned with the maintenance of aircrafts and Air Force equipment. You can get into this branch through the exam AFCAT or through University Entry Scheme (UES.)

Other branches include Logistics, Accounts, Education, Administration, and Medical & Dental Branch.


Rank Structure of the Indian Air Force

Rank- Marshal of the Air Force
Description– Marshal of the Air Force is the highest rank in the Indian Air Force which is an honorary war time rank. This rank is known as the five-star rank. Many countries have this rank, but not all use it.

Rank- Air Chief Marshal
Description– This is the second highest rank in the Indian Air Force which is a four-star rank. Only an Air Chief Marshal holds the position of Chief of the Air Staff(CAS), who is the professional head and the commander of the Indian Air Force.

Rank- Air Marshal
Description- It is a three-star rank in the Indian Air Force and is held by the officers who typically hold very senior appointments of the formation.

Rank- Air Vice Marshal
Description– Air Vice Marshal is a two-star officer rank in the Indian Air Force.

Rank- Air Commodore
Description– It is a single star rank which is the junior most rank in the star category. They act as direct support to air officer commanding.

Rank- Group Captain
Description– It is a senior commissioned rank in the Indian Air Force which is equivalent to Colonel in the army.

Rank- Wing Commander
Description– The rank of Wing Commander is just below the Group Captain but is a senior commissioned rank.

Rank- Squadron Leader
It comes just after the rank of Wing Commander.

Rank- Flight Lieutenant
It is a commissioned air force rank which comes just after Squadron Leader. The officer of this rank can never be addressed as only “Lieutenant”.

Rank- Flying Officer
Flying Officer is also a commissioned rank which is not only held by officers who fly an aircraft. Sometimes ground duty officers or air crew officers also hold this rank.

Junior Commissioned Officers of the Indian Air Force

Rank- Master Warrant Officer
This is the rank in which an officer is designated by warrant, unlike commissioned officers who get designated as an officer by a commission. It is the highest rank in Junior commissioned officers.

Rank- Warrant Officer
It is the second highest rank in the junior commissioned rank.

Rank- Junior Warrant Officer
Usually a technical leader or specialist holds the rank of Junior Warrant Officer.

Non-Commissioned Officers of the Indian Air Force

Rank- Sergeant
This is the rank just below the Junior Warrant Officer and is a non-commissioned rank.

Rank- Corporal
It is a military rank which corresponds to commanding a section or squad of soldiers.

Rank- Leading Aircraftman
It is technically not a rank but it is a title given to Non-Commissioned Officers in the Air Force.

Rank- Aircraftman
It is the lowest of all ranks in the Indian Air Force.


A career in Indian Air Force

On the basis of your educational qualifications, here are the opportunities available for you to join as an officer in IAF:

After 12th (10+2)
This entry is for men only. All males who have completed their higher secondary may join National Defence Academy(NDA) by clearing the exam followed by SSB interview. Once the exam is cleared and their training is completed they are eligible to join the air force. The exam is conducted by the UPSC.

After Graduation
Graduates can join any of the branches of the Indian Air Force by passing the Combined Defence Services(CDS) exam which is conducted by the UPSC. One can also give the Air Force Common Admission Test (AFCAT) to get selected in the Indian Air Force. After selection one gets training at one of the IAF training institutes and later they are commissioned and posted.

After Post-Graduation
After completing post-graduation one can join the technical or ground duty branches of the Indian Air Force. It is more favorable to have a degree in Aeronautical Engineering or Electronics. One can also get entry in the Indian Air Force through Meteorological Branch only after completing a post graduation degree in any Science stream / Mathematics / Statistics / Geography / Computer Applications / Environmental Science / Applied Physics / Oceanography / Meteorology / Agricultural Meteorology / Ecology & Environment / Geo-physics / Environmental Biology with minimum of 50% marks in aggregate of all papers put together (Provided Maths and Physics were studied at Graduation Level, with a minimum of 55% marks in both). Direct applications are there for the candidates.

NCC Entry
National Cadet Corps(NCC), which is also known as the fourth line of Defence, provides an opportunity to join the Indian Air Force if you have completed NCC training and obtained a C Certificate from Air Wing NCC.

UES Entry
University Entry Scheme is for those candidates who are currently studying in Pre-final year of BE / BTech degree course. There must be No backlog/arrears of papers of previous semesters at the time of SSB Testing if you want to join Air Force. On completion of the degree, it is necessary to obtain minimum 60% of marks in aggregate in all papers.
One can get permanent or short service commission based on gender and entry scheme.