How to Join Air Force in India (IAF): Eligibility, Salary & Benefits 

May 15, 2024
how to join air force

Quick Summary

  • Discover how to join the prestigious Indian Air Force (IAF) and serve your nation with pride.
  • Learn about the selection process through NDA, AFCAT, and NCC.
  • Whether you aspire to be a pilot, engineer, or administrator, there’s a path for you.
  • Know the eligibility criteria, salary structure, benefits, and the rewarding lifestyle offered by the IAF.
  • Join the ranks of brave men and women safeguarding India’s skies and borders. 

Table of Contents

Are you wondering how to join Air force in India and wish to serve the nation? The Indian Air Force (IAF), is a body that safeguards India’s skies and borders. Founded in 1932, the IAF boasts highly skilled and trained officers. These officers are trained with state-of-the-art technology to defend the nation’s pride. 

The Indian Air Force serves as a vital component of India’s military might. From providing humanitarian aid during natural disasters to carrying out surgical strikes across the border, the IAF has been securing India. 

Being an Indian Air Force officer comes with a lot of duties. The officers are expected to be fit, agile, and possess good tech skills. The Airforce officers should also uphold the values of integrity, courage, selfless service, and commitment to the nation and its people. 

This article will delve deeper into how to join Air Force in India, its selection process through NDA, AFCAT, and NCC, and more for Indian Air Force Recruitment 2024.  

How to  Join Air Force Through the NDA (National Defence Academy)?  

For individuals who often ask how to join Airforce in India through NDA, follow the steps given below: 

  • First, apply to the National Defence Academy (NDA).  
  • After that, shortlisted candidates undergo a three-year training program at the NDA. 
  • Then, you undergo special training at one of the training centers of NDA.  
  • Finally, you become Permanent IAF Officers at any of the Air Force Stations.  

The table below shows the complete details of joining the Indian Airforce through NDA: 

Particulars  Details 
Recruitment Drive Managed By UPSC 
Type of Commission Permanent 
Gender Men and women (Unmarried) 
Airforce Age Limit  16 ½ to 19 ½ years  (at the time of commencement of course) 
Nationality Indian 
Branches Flying Branch. Technical Branch. Non-technical Branch. 
Education 10+2 with Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics.  Final-year students can also apply. 
Training National Defence Academy (NDA) 

How to Join Air Force Through the AFCAT (Air Force Common Admission Test)?  

The most common method to join the Indian Airforce is through AFCAT (Air Force Common Admission Test). The AFCAT exam is open to those who have completed their graduation or post-graduation and wish to join the Indian Air Force.  

AFCAT also provides entry to the  

  • Flying branch. 
  • Ground Duty (Technical) Branch. 
  • Ground Duty (Non-Technical) Branch. 

Here are the details of the AFCAT exam: 

Exam Particulars Details 
Exam Name AFCAT 
Mode of Exam Online (English Only) 
Subjects General Awareness. Verbal Ability in English. Numerical Ability. Reasoning and Military Aptitude.  
No. of Questions 100 
Max Marks 300 
Duration 2 Hours 
Correct Answer. 3 Marks 
Wrong Answer. (-)1 Marks 

How  to  Join the Air  Force Through the NCC (National Cadet Corps)? 

The NCC Air Wing hires aspirants from schools, colleges, and universities. The chosen ones then get military training in marches and small weapons.  

By enrolling in the NCC entry program, one can become a part of the Flying branch, as outlined below: 

Gender Male & Female (Unmarried) 
Airforce Age Limit 20 to 24 years  
Month of notice June & December on www.afcat.cdac.in 
Advertisement released by Indian Air Force/ DISHA Cell 
Training Air Force Academy 
Marital status Unmarried 
Other eligibility Should have a valid NCC “Air” Wing ‘C’ Certificate. 

IAF Officer Rank Structure and Career Progression 

Whether you join Indian Airforce through NDA, AFCAT, or NCC, you join as a Flying Officer. After every certain year, you get promoted to higher positions.  

The IAF rank structure and career growth look as follows: 

Rank Indian Airforce Positions Job Levels 
I Flying Officer Flying Lieutenant Junior Level 
III Squadron Leader Wing Commander Group Captain Executive Level 
III Air Comrade Air Vice-Marshal Air Marshal Director Level 
IV Air Chief Marshal Chief 

IAF Technical and Non-Technical Branches  

The Indian Air Force (IAF) is divided into two main branches – the Technical Branch and the Non-Technical Branch.  

The Technical Branch comprises engineers who maintain and operate aircraft, radars, and other equipment used by the IAF.  

On the other hand, the Non-Technical Branch consists of administrative and logistics officers who provide support services to the IAF.  

The table below provides a brief overview of the two branches: 

Branch Sub-Branches 
Technical Branch Mechanical, Electronics, Ground Duty 
Non-Technical Branch Administration, Accounts, Logistics 
A Part-time Job that Pays like Full-time

IAF Salary and Benefits  

The salary structure of the IAF varies based on the rank, experience, and type of commission of the personnel. Here are some of the benefits and allowances provided to IAF personnel from different branches: 

Indian Airforce Salary Structure 2024 

The table below shows the Indian Airforce salary structure for 2024: 

Particulars Details 
Rank Flying Officer 
Level  10  
Pay as per the defense matrix INR 56,100-1,77,500 
Military Service Pay (MSP) INR 15,500 per month 

Salary for Flying Branch 2024 

The table below shows the salary of the Flying Branch: 

Salary Components Amount (INR) 
TA ( For X Cities) 56,100 
MSP 15,500 
DA (28%) 15,708 
Flying Pay 25,000 
TA ( For X Cities) 7,200 
DA on TA (28%) 2,016 
Kit Maintenance 600 
Gross Salary 1,22,024 
In-hand Salary 85.372 
Annual Package 8-10 LPA 

Salary for Ground Duty (Technical) Branch 2024 

The table below shows the salary of the Ground Duty (Technical) Branch: 

Salary Components Amount (INR) 
Basic Pay 56,100 
MSP 15,500 
DA (28%) 15,708 
Technical Pay 10,000 
TA ( For X Class Cities) 7,200 
DA on TA (28%) 2,016 
Gross Salary 1,06,524 
In-hand Salary 74,872 
Annual Salary 7-9 LPA 

Salary for Ground Duty (Non-Technical) Branch 2024  

The table below shows the salary of the Ground Duty (Non-Technical) Branch: 

Salary Components Amount (INR) 
Basic Pay 56,100 
MSP 15,500 
DA (28%) 15,708 
TA ( For X Class Cities) 7,200 
DA on TA (28%) 2,016 
Gross Salary 96,524 
In-hand Salary 71,872 
Annual Salary 7-9 LPA 

  IAF Lifestyle and Work Culture 

As an officer in the Air Force, your job is to protect India’s freedom and follow the law. It’s a big duty, but being in the Air Force also means you can live a good life. Air Force life is not the same as civilian life because it offers many benefits, like adventure, excitement, and respect.  

Under your work culture, you’ll have access to great sports, recreation, education, and more facilities. The Air Force lifestyle promotes good health and a good routine. You’ll have lots of time to spend with your family and build strong relations with your colleagues and extended family.  

Also Read: AFCAT Salary 2024 | Job Profile, Pay Scale, Allowances & Other Benefits

  IAF Perks and Facilities 

When you join the Indian Air Force, you have access to a lot of facilities and perks. The table below shows the extras and facilities that an Indian Airforce officer enjoys: 

Perks Details 
Major Benefits Insurance. Loans. Medical. Educational Opportunities. 
Other Benefits Accommodation. Leave- Annual leave for 60 days and casual leave of 20 days per year. Leave travel concessions. Institute and Messes membership. School facilities. Rail concessions. Secured camp life. CSD facilities. Recreational and sports facilities. 
Post-retirement Benefits Pension. Insurance. Medical 

IAF Job Responsibilities and Duties  

 Below is a table explaining the job responsibilities and duties for the Flying, Technical, and Non-Technical branches of the Indian Air Force: 

Branch Job Responsibilities and Duties 
Flying Branch – Conducting aerial operations like combat, transport, and reconnaissance. 
 – Piloting aircraft, helicopters, and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). 
 – Navigation, communication, and surveillance during flights. 
Technical Branch Mechanical Sub-Branch: 
 – Maintenance and repair of engines, airframes, and mechanical systems. 
 – Conducting technical inspections and troubleshooting mechanical issues. 
 Electronics Sub-Branch: 
 – Maintenance and repair of avionics, communication, and navigation systems. 
 – Troubleshooting electronic systems and conducting technical inspections. 
 Ground Duty Sub-Branch: 
 – Maintenance and operation of ground-based equipment like radars. 
 – Ensuring proper functioning of missile systems and other equipment. 
Non-Technical Branch Administration Sub-Branch: 
 – Personnel management and administration. 
 – Maintaining personnel records and conducting training programs. 
 Accounts Sub-Branch: 
 – Financial management and accounting. 
 – Budgeting and procurement of equipment and resources. 
 Logistics Sub-Branch: 
 – Procurement and supply of equipment and resources. 
 – Transportation and maintenance of equipment and resources. 

Also Read: AFCAT Exam Pattern 2022 | Syllabus, Marking Scheme and Subject Wise Pattern

IAF Interview Tips and Preparation Techniques  

Below are some preparation tips for the NDA, AFCAT, and NCC: 

Preparation Tips For NDA 

  • Join good coaching for NDA training. 
  • Improve physical fitness through regular exercise. 
  • Learn time skills for physical fitness, academics, and other activities. 

Preparation Tips For AFCAT 

  • Understand the exam pattern and syllabus nicely. 
  • Prepare a study plan and give enough time for each section. 
  • Practice time skills to complete the exam within the given time limit. 
  • Take online mock tests to improve speed and accuracy. 
  • Read newspapers and current affairs daily to stay updated on current events. 
  • Practice solving maths problems timely. 

Preparation Tips For NCC 

  • Attend NCC training sessions to develop physical and mental fitness. 
  • Learn basic military tactics and strategy. 
  • Develop leadership and teamwork skills by participating in group activities. 
  • Practice discipline and obedience. 
  • Take part in NCC camps and other outdoor activities. 
  • Attend lectures and seminars on military and defense-related topics to improve knowledge and awareness. 

Here are some tips to help you prepare for an IAF interview: 

  • Be prepared to answer questions about your background, education, and experience. 
  • Research the IAF’s current operations and missions. 
  • Be familiar with the technology and equipment used by the IAF. 
  • Understand the physical requirements of the IAF. 
  • Practice answering questions about your motivation for joining the IAF and your long-term goals. 
  • Be confident and composed during the interview. 

IAF Recruitment Process and Timeline.  

The Airforce recruitment is carried out in the following four steps: 

STEP 1 – Advertisement 

The table below shows the advertisement details for NDA, AFCAT, and NCC: 

Different Recruitment Methods Details 
For NDA The notice for NDA is released twice a year in the months of June and December by UPSC. 
AFCAT For branches except for NDA, aspirants are required to appear for the AFCAT.  AFCAT is held twice a year in the months of February and August.  The IAF releases notices for AFCAT in June and December. 
NCC Entrance Aspirants holding Air Sqn NCC Senior division ‘C’ certificate are to apply online through NCC Special entry. 

Step 2 – AFSB (AIR FORCE SELECTION BOARD) TESTING 

You’ll get a call letter after you pass stage 1 with flying colors. Typically, one of the Air Force Selection Boards at Dehradun, Varanasi, Gandhinagar, or Mysuru is where you must appear for testing.  

You are subjected to the following tests at these AFSBs: 

Testing Stages Tests  
Stage I  Psychological Tests. Group Tests. Interview. Computerised Pilot Selection System (CPSS) test (for Flying Branch). 
Stage II Psychological Tests. Group Tests. Interview. Computerised Pilot Selection System (CPSS) test (for Flying Branch). 

Step-3 Medical Exams 

Next, the medical exams are scheduled as per the selection committee. The Air Force Central Medical Establishment (AFCME) in New Delhi or the Institute of Aviation Medicine in Bengaluru will host the medical examination. 

Step 4: All India Merit List 

An All India Merit List is created based on your performance on the written exam and in the AFSB interview, as well as your physical and mental health. Following that, individuals are given joining instructions depending on the openings in various branches or sub-branches and are told to join one of the training facilities. 

Women Recruitment in the Indian Air Force (IAF)


In 2015, the IAF initiated an experimental scheme to induct women pilots in combat roles. Over time, this scheme has evolved into a permanent fixture, enabling gender-neutral employment in combat roles. Currently, women pilots actively participate in flying both fighter and transport aircraft, undertaking operational missions. Additionally, the IAF has broadened opportunities for women in technical and non-technical roles, with women serving as engineers, technicians, scientists, and officers in various branches.

Eligibility Criteria:

Age: Applicants must be between 20 to 25 years old. The upper age limit can go up by 3 years for OBC candidates and 5 years for SC/ST candidates.

Marital Status: Must be unmarried at the time of joining and cannot be a widows or divorcee.

Nationality: Only Indian citizens are eligible to apply.

Education Requirements:

For Flying Branch:

  • A graduate degree (3-year course) with a minimum of 60% marks in Mathematics and Physics at the 10+2 level.

For Technical Branch:

  • A graduate degree (3-year course) with a minimum of 50% marks in aggregate.

For Non-Technical Branch:

  • A graduate degree (3-year course) with a minimum of 50% marks in aggregate.

Physical and Medical Standards:
Candidates must meet the physical and medical fitness standards prescribed by the IAF.

Application Route:

  1. Air Force Common Admission Test (AFCAT): Conducted by the IAF twice a year.
  2. University Entry Scheme through Common Defence Services Exam (CDSE): Conducted by UPSC twice a year.
  3. NCC Special Entry: For candidates with NCC ‘C’ Certificates.

Selection Process:

  1. Written Exam
  2. Officer Intelligence Rating Test
  3. Picture Perception and Discussion Test
  4. Psychological Assessment
  5. Group Tests
  6. Interview
  7. Computerised Pilot Selection System (for the flying branch only)
  8. Medical Examination

By adhering to these eligibility criteria and successfully navigating the selection process, women can join the IAF in various capacities, contributing to its operational readiness and overall mission success.

Indian Air Force: Challenging Yet Rewarding Career  

To join the Indian Air Force (IAF), candidates must meet the eligibility criteria, including age, educational qualifications, and physical standards. The selection process consists of written tests, physical fitness tests, medical examinations, and interviews. After selection, candidates take training before being posted into the IAF.  

The salary and benefits offered to Indian Air Force officers include medical, housing, and retirement benefits. But, the salary varies depending on the rank and experience of the aspirant. Thus, joining the IAF offers a great chance to serve the nation and build a rewarding career in the defense sector.  

Evaluate numerous career choices to choose the right career path for yourself. Dive in to our guide on Career Advice.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I join the Air Force after the 12th?  

Yes, you can join the Air Force after the 12th through NDA. To get into Air Force after 12th you need to qualify for NDA exams conducted by UPSC. After which you will be trained under NDA for 3 years. Then, you undergo special training at one of the training centers of NDA. And finally, you become Permanent IAF Officers at any of the Air Force Stations.   

Which exam is required for the Air Force? 

Candidates must take the Air Force Common Admission Test (AFCAT) for all entries and all branches. It is the most common entrance test for candidates who want to work in Air Force. The exam is held twice a year in February and August. Other than AFCAT, the NDA exam is also a way if you want to get into Air Force just after completing the 12th.  

What is the salary in the Air Force?   

The is 8.0 Lakhs, with salaries ranging from 2.8 Lakhs to 12.0 Lakhs. Note that, this salary range changes according to your designation in the Air Force, years of experience, your mission accomplishments and also changing government policies. 

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