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Careers in Air Force (As Officer)

The Indian Air Force (IAF) the youngest of the three defence services, was commissioned on October 8, 1932, with four single-propeller engine Wapiti aircrafts, six pilot officers, two airmen and 19 Hawai Sepoys. The first Indian Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal Subroto Mukherjee one of the founding members of the Air Force took over on 1st April 1954. Today, the IAF is the fourth largest Airforce in the world with its forty-five squadron strength and some of the most sophisticated fighter air crafts like Mirage 2000, MIG 29, MIG 27, Jaguar, MIG 25, MIG 23 and MIG 21. The transport wing has the huge IL 76 (Gajraj), AN 32 and other smaller aircrafts. Armed Forces offer excellent career opportunities to the adventurous young candidates. Its a career that offers immense facilities, a privileged lifestyle and of course, honour in serving the country. The major activity of the air force is that of flying combat air crafts and helicopters. Other activities include technical work such as aeronautical engineering, electronics, and computer engineering, as well as administrative, financial and planning duties. One can join the Air Force either as an Officer or Airman. The officer cadre provides opportunities for men having 10+2 (Intermediate), graduate, engineering and postgraduate degrees, in their three different branches. Women who are graduates, engineers and post graduates can join as an Officer in the Air force. The officers will be posted either as a Pilot, or a Navigator, or a Technical or a Ground Duty officer in any one of the Air Force bases. Women have opportunities only in the Officer cadre of the Air force. In the Airmen cadre, there are opportunities even for class tenth pass (Matriculate) and below candidates, 10+2 (Intermediate), Diploma, graduates, postgraduates etc in their technical and non-technical trade fields.

One can join the Air Force as an Officer in either one of the three branches, the Flying, Technical or the Ground branch. The officer cadre provides opportunities for men with 10+2 /Intermediate (only in the flying branch), graduates ( all three branches), engineers (all three branches) and postgraduates (all branches except the Flying branch). Women who are graduates, engineers and post graduates can join as an Officer in the Air force. Candidates short-listed after the initial selection procedure, go through a rigorous training regimen at one of the Air Force training establishments. Thereafter, they are commissioned as officers and posted either as a Pilot or a Navigator, or a Technical or a Ground Duty officer at any of the Air Force Stations. Only the Officer cadre of the Air force provide opportunities for women. But they will be appointed only on ‘Short Service Commission’ i.e for a term of 10 years which you can extend up to 10 more years depending on your conduct or retire at the age of 40 whichever comes first. Only men will be granted ‘Permanent Commission’ from the Indian Air Force i.e will be accepted in service, for life. They can also opt for ‘Short Service Commission’.

The Flying branch includes Fighter pilots who fly combat or fighter planes carrying ammunition and missiles; Transport pilots who fly planes which carry men and materials, and Helicopter pilots who provide air support to a moving army, or are used for para-dropping men and supplies. This branch also includes navigators who fly along with the pilot and guide the aircraft by using the latest avionic equipment. The Technical branch consists of all the engineering sections which are responsible for the engineering equipment and weapons systems of the air force. Aeronautical engineers in the mechanical department ensure the proper maintenance of all aircraft; while those in the electronics department handle the electronic and communication equipment in aircraft. The Ground Duties Branch includes all the departments that provide logistical, meteorological, educational and administrative support to the flying and technical branches. This includes the Air Traffic Control Officer who provides control and advisory services to enable the pilot to conduct flights in total safety. The Fighter Controller monitors the skies for any potential threat and selects the appropriate air defence system using modern electronic equipment to intercept these threats. The logistics Officer is responsible for provisioning the aircraft with spares, fuel, armaments and so on, while the meteorological branch officers are engaged in conducting scientific research on the prevailing weather and atmospheric conditions. There are also other branches such as administration, education and accounts.

Eligibility: The three branches of the Air force are Flying, Ground duty and Technical branch. The officer cadre provides opportunities for men with 10+2 / Intermediate (only in the Flying branch), graduates (all three branches), engineers (all three branches) and postgraduates (all branches except the Flying branch) in the various positions. Women with graduate (all three branches), engineering (all three branches) and post graduate degrees (all branches except the Flying branch) have openings as an Officer in the Air force.

Physical Standards: Physical fitness is one of the most important prerequisites for joining the Air Force. Irrespective of the branch you are applying for, you must fulfill some basic physical standards. General physical requirements common for all candidates.

  • • You must be in good physical and mental health and free from any disease/ disability, which is likely to interfere with efficient performance of duties. There should be no evidence of weak constitution, bodily defects or overweight.
  • • The height and weight standards for men and women differ.
  • • Your chest should be well developed. The minimum range of expansion after full inspiration should be 5 cm.
  • • There should be no disease of bones and joints of the body.
  • • You should be free of any past history of mental breakdown or fits.
  • • Your hearing should be normal without any evidence of present or past disease of the ear, nose and throat.
  • • There should be no sign of functional or organic disease of the heart and blood vessels. Your blood pressure should also be normal.
  • • The muscles of the abdomen should be well developed without any enlargement of the liver or spleen. Any evidence of disease of internal organs of the abdomen can be a cause for rejection.
  • • An un-operated hernia can make you unfit for selection. If operated, this should have been done at least six months prior to the present examination and healing should be complete without any potential for recurrence.
  • • There should be no hydrocele, varicocele or piles. If operated for hydrocele and/or varicocele, this should have been done at least six months prior to the present examination and healing should be complete without any recurrence.
  • • Urine examination will be done and any abnormality, if detected, can be a cause for rejection.
  • • Any disease of the skin, which is likely to cause disability or disfigurement, will also be a cause for rejection.
  • • Vision will be tested. You must have good binocular vision. In case you have undergone or are detected to have undergone Radial Keratotomy, or any other procedure to improve the visual acuity, you will be permanently rejected.
  • • You should have sufficient number of natural and sound teeth. A minimum of 14 dental points will be acceptable. When 32 teeth are present, the total dental points are 22. You should not be suffering from severe pyorrhoea.

Conditions pertaining to women that will entail rejection for all Air Force Duties:

  • • Acute or chronic pelvic infection
  • • Severe menorrhagia
  • • Severe dysmenorrhea
  • • Complete prolapse of uterus
  • • Pregnancy/ Amenorrhea
  • • Any other gynaecological condition, if so considered by the specialist.

Selection: The selection procedure for picking the candidates is quite strict and elaborate. The four steps involved are

  1. Scanning of Application: After checking all eligibility wise application forms for the three branches, you will receive a call letter with further instructions. If you have applied to the Flying Branch through the NDA or CDSE, your applications will be sent for processing to UPSC. There after you will receive a call letter for writing the UPSC Exam. Men after clearing the UPSC Exams take the pilot aptitude battery test (PABT). If you are a woman applying for the Short Service Commission or applying as an NCC Senior Division ‘C’ Certificate Holder, you skip the UPSC Exams, and move to the next step i.e PABT, after your application has been processed. PABT comprises a written test in which a candidate’s perception and grasp of the subject is gauged. This is followed by two machine tests for checking the basic co-ordination and psychomotor skills. If you have applied to the Ground Duty Branch, your application will be sent to the Air Headquarters for short-listing. Then the candidates need to undergo an officer intelligence-rating test. If you have applied to the Technical Branch, you will be required to take the Engineering Knowledge Test (EKT). If you pass the EKT, you move to the next step.
  2. Testing Officer like Qualities: After you have successfully cleared Step 1, you will receive a call letter to report to any one of the Air Force Selection Boards (AFSB) located at Dehradun, Varanasi and Mysore. At the Air Force Selection Boards, you undergo a number of psychological tests, an interview and group activities, which are collectively called the Officer Like Qualities (OLQ) Tests. The Psychological Tests are written tests that are conducted by a Psychologist. The Group Tests are interactive indoor and outdoor tests. We expect active physical participation from you. The Interview involves a personal conversation with our Interviewing Officer. All of the above are screening tests. If you do not make the passing grades, you are routed back home the same day. If you have applied through NDA/CDSE (for Flying Branch) there is no screening; you are tested for your second/third choice of Army and Navy. At the conference held on the last day, all the assessors, i.e. the Psychologist, Ground Testing Officer and the Interviewing Officer, discuss your performance. Based on your performance, you will be selected for the next step. 
  3. Conducting Medical Examinations: If you have applied for the Flying branch and are found suitable by the Selection Board, you would be sent to the Air Force Central Medical Establishment, New Delhi or the Institute of Aviation Medicine, Bangalore for a thorough medical examination. If you have applied for the Technical or Ground Duty Branches and are found suitable, you would be asked to return home and await a call for a medical examination depending upon your position in the merit list.
  4. Preparing All India Merit List: An All India merit list is compiled on the basis of your performance at the group tests as well as the medical examination. If you qualify the merit list, depending upon vacancies, you are instructed to go to the training academy.


Remuneration: Air Force not only offers you an adventurous and challenging career, but also takes care of all your needs including basic accommodation, health care, recreational areas, education facilities for your children etc. Even before you are commissioned as an Air Force officer you start earning a monthly stipend of Rs. 8000/- during your training period at any of the Air Force Training Establishments. And on successful completion of your training you receive the retrospective D.A. for the complete training period. Once you are commissioned as a Flying Officer, besides getting an attractive pay package, you and your family enjoy an excellent way of life. Depending on your branch, you start your career with the following emoluments on the grant of Permanent Commission: Post Monthly Income Flying Branch (Pilots/ Navigators) Technical Branch (Electronics/Mechanical) Ground Duty Branches Rs 16,900 (approx.) Rs 13,400 (approx.) Rs 12,400 (approx.) The other benefits include living accomodation with 2-3 bed rooms (depending upon the rank), Insurance cover of Rs 10 lakhs at low premium rates, an annual leave of 60 days and 20 days causal leave, liberal Leave Travel Concessions to you and your family, Liberal loans for purchase of cars, computer or a house from the Air Force Group Insurance Society, Medical Facilities including specialist services to you and your family, Ration, Schooling facilities and opportunities for higher learning and facilities for recreational as well as competitive sports and other adventure activities. After retirement, you are offered a large number of benefits like pension, medical facilities, use of the canteen etc.



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