How to become a Commissioned Officer (CO) in the Indian Air Force?
One may join a branch of one's choice depending on the eligibility. There are three branches to opt viz., Flying, technical and ground duty branch. There are sub-streams of these branches as follows: Fighters, Transports and Helicopters are the sub-streams of Flying Branch; Mechanical and Electronics of the Technical Branch; and Accounts, Administration, Logistics, Education and Meteorology are the sub-streams of Ground Duty Branch.
On joining as an Air Force Officer, one undergoes the rigorous training to acquire the communication skills, develop leadership capabilities and face the pressures with ease. After joining the Flying branch of the IAF. an officer may be trained either as a Fighter pilot or a Helicopter pilot or a Transport pilot. One may join the flying branch after qualifying AFCAT examination as a graduate or the NDA examination.
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Technical branch may be joined by both male and female Indian candidates who are unmarried and below the age of 25 years. There are two schemes to join the Technical branch but via AFCAT.First scheme is known as University Entry Scheme (UES) and other as Aeronautical Engineering Course.
The candidates studying in Pre-final year of BE / BTech Engineering degree course may apply to UES. Candidates must secure 60 % marks in all the subjects on completion of the degree. Only male candidates may join the UES scheme and they will be granted permanent commission in The IAF.
Entry through Aeronautical Engineering Course is applicable to both male and female candidates. Male candidates are eligible for both short service commission or permanent commission whereas female candidates are eligible for short service commission alone. For Aeronautical course, advertisements are released twice by Air Force in the months of June and December. Students of the final year or who have completed Engineering degree in electronics or mechanical.
Ground duty branch may be joined by both graduate and post graduate students after appearing in AFCAT test. General eligibility requires a male or female candidate to be Indian, unmarried and below the age of 23 years if graduate and below 25 years if post-graduate. Age relaxations are available to law graduate (1 year) and CA/ICWA/M Ed/Ph D (2 years). For administrative sub-stream, graduate must possess 60 % marks and post graduates 50% marks in aggregate in all papers.Commerce graduates and post graduates are eligible to apply for Accounts branch and students with technical qualifications for Meteorology. Education sub-stream is open for candidates from all disciplines.
Selection process: It's a four step process that involves Air Force Common Admission Test (AFCAT), SSB (Short Service Board) Testing, medical examination and preparation of final merit list. Candidates successful in the AFCAT test are issued call letters to undergo stage I test that includes intelligence rating test and picture perception/discussion test. After screening in the stage I test, successful candidates have to appear in the stage II testing that involves psychological test, group test and interview. Last day of the stage II testing involves a conference of all the assessors to declare candidates successful or unsuccessful. Those successful have to fill up certain documents before moving to medical examination.
Few unique tests are carried out for candidates joining Flying branch. These include Pilot Aptitude Battery Test (PABT) that comprises 3 tests viz., Instrument Battery Test, Sensory Motor Apparatus Test and Control Velocity Test.
After being declared selected, candidates have to undergo training at the Air Force Training Institutions. Candidates are provided a stipend of Rs. 21000/- during the last year of training.
Pay Band and allowances: After commissioning as an Air Force Officer, the officers are placed in the Pay band 3 that envisages the pay scale of Rs 15600-39100 with the grade pay of Rs 5400 PM. Gross emoluments as first pay package are given below for all branches.
Rs 66110/-PM in the Flying Branch, Rs 57360/- PM in the Technical branch and Rs. 54860/-PM.in the Ground Duty branch.
Other benefits to Air Force personnel include free ration, housing facilities, medical facilities, annual leave for 60 days and casual leave of 20 days per year, leave travel concessions etc.
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