It is the world’s fourth-largest air force. It has a base at Tajikistan and holds a world record for rescuing the most number of civilians during a natural disaster. These are only a few of the many achievements which tell us about the valour and capability of this wing of the Indian Armed Forces – we are, of course, talking about the Indian Air Force (IAF).
The IAF was founded on October 8, 1932, and the force has participated in several crucial wars and landmark missions. With tasks and situations that test one’s daring, bravery, grit and never-say-die spirit each and every day, a career in the Indian Air Force is considered extremely prestigious and fulfilling. If you think you have it in you to be a part of the Indian Air Force, here’s how you can do it:
|Class XIIth||After Graduation||Exams|
|Route 1||Clear class XII in Science (PCM)||–||Clear the National Defense Exam (NDA) to join the Air Force|
|Route 2||Clear class XII in Science (PCM)||Pursue Graduation in any stream||Clear the CDSE/AFCAT exam and UPSC. Eligible to join through NCC Special Scheme Entry (C Certificate)|
|Route 3||Clear class XII in Science (PCM)||Pursue B.Tech/BE for 4 years||Clear Engineering Knowledge Test (EKT)|
The different branches in Indian Air Force:
Imagine flying a plane that can travel faster than the speed of sound, touching the sky, skimming over treetops, landing in unexplored areas – you can do all this and more as an Air Force Pilot. It involves serving the nation by flying in support of Army and Navy operations, para-dropping supplies to troops, engaging the enemy in the air, carrying out missions during natural calamities and much more. As a fighter pilot in the IAF, you can fly state-of-the-art fighter aircraft like the Sukhoi-30MKI, Mirage-2000, and the Jaguar. The Indian Air Force also offers opportunities of flying transport aircraft, with planes like the C-17, C-130J, IL-76, IL-78 etc. You can also become a helicopter pilot and fly Mi-17, Mi-26, Mi-35 heli-gunships etc. Proving your mettle in the Flying Branch, you can rise up all the way to the highest ranks of Air Marshal and Air Chief Marshal. The sky is literally the limit in this job!
Not many careers give the range and scope of engineering that the Technical Branch of the Indian Air Force provides for its cadre. Working on advanced technologies like highly sophisticated aircraft and equipment, weapon systems, communication and support systems is what comprises a career in this branch. The technical branch ensures maintenance and mustering of resources with respect to technical facilities from the ground to the air. As a Technical Branch Officer, you will join the Air Force in the rank of a Flying Officer and will be directly involved with engineering activities. As one grows in the service and gains experience, one is entrusted with additional responsibilities of supervising and training juniors.
Ground Duty Branch
If you think managing resources in critical conditions is your thing, then the Ground Duty Branch is for you. Everything from managing personnel, finance, material, creation of educational facilities for better Human Resource Development and provisioning of equipment, ration and clothing for the force to unravelling the mysteries of weather, and controlling air traffic is done by the Ground Branch. The science of management and administration originated from ancient armies managing men and material in the most adverse conditions of war. Such scenarios demand the best in quality of leadership and human skills.
Women in the IAF
The IAF offers Short Service Command (SSC) for women in all branches – flying, technical and ground duty. Age and educational qualification criteria are the same as applicable to male candidates in all the branches. In the Flying Branch, engagement period will be 14 years with no extension, and in the Technical & Ground Duty Branches for a period of 10 years which may be extended for four years subject to willingness, service requirements and availability of vacancies. Wing Commander Shaliza Dhami became the first woman flight commander in August 2019, and she is also the first woman officer to be given a permanent commission with the IAF.
For all you Air Force aspirants, a strong foundation in science subjects and a great performance in 10+2 will give you a strong advantage at cracking the entrance.
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1. Can I give AFCAT after 12?
No, candidates must have passed Class 12 with 60% marks in Maths and Physics and also hold a graduation degree in a relevant field. There is also an age criteria to be eligible for AFCAT of between 20 to 26 years, which varies depending on whether you opt for the Flying Branch or the Ground Duty (Technical & Non-Technical) Branch.
2. Is Afcat exam tough?
Candidates have reported that the AFCAT exam is moderate and not tough. With proper guidance and strategy for each subject, it is possible to crack AFCAT.
3. Can a girl join Air Force?
Yes, women candidates who are interested in joining the Air Force can take the AFCAT exam.
4. Can B Com student apply for AFCAT?
Yes, candidates from all streams, including commerce can apply for AFCAT.
Charu, a feminist and an accidental writer, is yet to master the art of writing about herself. Always curious to learn new stuff, she ends up spending a lot of time unlearning the incorrect lessons. She enjoys all sorts of stories – real, fictional, new, old, hers and would love hearing yours too. Feel free to ping her at [email protected] to share anything that you think is worth sharing.
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