Air Force Day: How To Become A Pilot In Indian Air Force

India Air Force (IAF), which is one amongst the three uniformed services in Indian Armed Forces, was established by British India on October 8, 1932. Since, then, the day is being observed as Air Force Day.

A career in Indian Air Force is not only an exciting one but also a blend of national service with lucrative salary structure. In order to join Indian Air Force, a candidate can choose between Airmen and Officer. Compared to Airmen, Officer is a respectable position in the Indian Air Force and able to lead and control. One can join as an officer in the Indian Air Force by taking up Flying Branch/ Ground Duty (technical branch)/ Ground Duty (non-technical branch).


A pilot in the Indian Air Force falls under Flying Branch. There are in total four ways to become a pilot in the Indian Air Force. Let's tour them!

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Combined Defence Services Examination (CDSE)

The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts the Combined Defence Services Examination (CDSE) twice a year for recruitment into the Indian Military Academy, Officers Training Academy, Indian Naval Academy and Indian Air Force Academy. After qualifying the exam, one has to undergo training to get a Permanent Commission.

Candidates have to satisfy all the eligibility requirements set by UPSC to appear for the examination. Graduates (three-year course) in any discipline from a recognised university (with physics and mathematics at 10+2 level)/ BE/ B Tech (four-year course) is required. There is no percentage bar for CDS entry and only men are eligible to take this exam. UPSC releases the advertisement for CDS in the months of November and August.

NCC Special Entry

NCC Special Entry

Both men and women are eligible for this special entry where they will be given ‘Permanent Commission Officers' post. With an Air Wing Senior Division 'C' Certificate holder of the National Cadet Corps, one can apply to the Flying Branch of the Indian Air Force. Permanent Commission is offered for men while Short Service Commission is for men and women. The recruitment will be done through the Directorate General National Cadet Corps or through the respective NCC Air Squadrons.

Graduates (three year course)/ BE/B Tech (four-year course) in any discipline from a recognised university with minimum 60% marks or equivalent is required. The advertisement for NCC special entry is released by the IAF in the months of June and December.

Air Force Common Admission Test (AFCAT)

Candidates can apply through Air Force Common Admission Test (AFCAT) for Short Service Commission (SSC) in the Flying Branch. The Short Service Commission in Flying branch is for 14 years and there will be no further extension.

Candidates with a minimum of 60% mark each in maths & physics at 10+2 level is required. Graduates (three-year course)/ BE/B Tech (four-year course) in any discipline from a recognised university with minimum 60% marks or equivalent is also required. The advertisements for AFCAT are released by the IAF in the months of June and December.

National Defence Academy (NDA)

NDA is conducted twice a year by the UPSC. For admission to Flying Branch of IAF through NDA, 10+2 with physics and mathematics is required.

Candidates who are shortlisted for Indian Air Force have to go for a rigorous three-year training regimen at the National Defence Academy at Khadakwasla, followed by specialised training at one of the AF Training Establishments. Once a candidate successfully completes the training he or she will be Commissioned as Permanent Commission Officers and posted as pilots at Air Force Stations spread across the country.

Eligibility Requirements

As we stated above, graduation is required for CDSE, NCC Special Entry and AFCAT. However, 10+2 is required for NDA. While coming to the age limit, 20 to 24 years (at the time of commencement of course) is required for CDSE, NCC Special Entry and AFCAT. However, 16 ½ to 19 ½ years for NDA.

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