Question & Answers: Career in the Indian Air force


I am a grade 10 student and want to pursue a career in the Indian Air force. If u could kindly suggest a stream to select next year and also what shall I be planning for my higher studies to join the Air force.


It is very sensible of you to begin planning your future early and a career in the Indian Air Force is definitely one that you will find fulfilling and rewarding. Though the basic entry requirements and application process are fairly simple, there are some tests and evaluations that you must pass to join this prestigious field.

In essence there are three ways of enlisting in the Indian Air Force:

Career in Indian Air Force

·         NDA (National Defence Academy)

·         CDSE (Combined Defence Services Examination)

·         AFCAT (Air force Common Admission Test)

Of the three options, you can join the Air Force through the NDA soon after 12th grade. To do this you will need to complete high school with Physics and Mathematics.  Age is an important factor and you need to be between 16.5 to 19 years of age. Only on clearing the written exam, will you be called for the interview which includes aptitude tests, group interviews and psychological evaluation. Once you are through with the interviews you will be subject to a physical fitness evaluation.  As you can well appreciate physical fitness is an extremely important criteria and candidates must be in good physical and mental health and have good eyesight.  On successful selection you will have to undergo a rigorous three- year training program in an intense learning environment at the National Defence Academy in Khadakvasla. Following this, you will then receive specialized training for one year at the Air Force academy after which you will be commissioned as an officer of the IAF at an Air Force station.

The other option to join the IAF is to apply for the CDSE on graduation. You could be a graduate in any field but should have done physics and maths in high school. The test is usually held in the months of February and August by UPSC and unlike the NDA is open to both men and women. The exam mainly consists of questions on General Awareness, English and elementary Mathematics. You should be between 19 -23 years of age to be able to apply. Like the NDA, the procedure involves an interview, should you be successful in the written exams, to be followed by a physical fitness evaluation.

Another route after graduation is to apply through the AFCAT for Short Service Commission (SSC). The AFCAT is a two hour objective test containing questions General Awareness, Verbal Ability in English, Numerical ability and Reasoning/Military Aptitude.

Successful candidates will have to attend an interview after the test. Then, depending on whether they aspire for a flying or a technical career they would have to appear for tests such as the PABT (Pilot Aptitude and Battery Test) or the EKT (Engineering Knowledge Test).

An officer in the Indian Air Force you will strategise, lead and manage. Depending on your qualifications, you could join one of the various branches in the IAF. Broadly the Air Force has three branches:

a) Flying branch – fighters , transport and helicopters
b) Technical branch – mechanical, electronic
c) Ground duty branch – administration, accounts, logistics, education and meteorology

The training of an officer will include lessons in team work and leadership, developing communication skills and confidence, honing strategic and dynamic thinking and preparing you to face pressure with equanimity. Whatever branch you choose in the Indian Air Force, I am sure you will cherish the values you acquire in the process and take pride in being associated with one of the oldest and largest air force teams in the world.

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