This article will put light on the structure and formation of the Indian Airforce. It’ll cover details about commands, wings etc. As an aspirant of the Indian Airforce, you are expected to know the commands and structure of the IAF.
Structure of Indian Air Force
The President of India is the Supreme Commander of all Indian armed forces and by virtue of that fact is the national Commander-in-chief of the Air Force. Chief of the Air Staff with the rank of Air Chief Marshal is the Commander of the Indian Air Force. He is assisted by six officers, all with the rank of Air Marshal:
- Vice Chief of the Air Staff
- Deputy Chief of the Air Staff
- Air Officer in Charge of Administration
- Air Officer in Charge of Personnel
- Air Officer in Charge of Maintenance
- Director General of Inspection and Flight Safety.
In January 2002, the government conferred the rank of Marshal of the Air Force on Arjan Singh making him the first and only Five-star officer with the Indian Air Force and ceremonial chief of the air force.
Formation of Indian Air Force
The Indian Air Force is divided into five operational and two functional commands. Each Command is headed by an Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief with the rank of Air Marshal. The purpose of an operational command is to conduct military operations using aircraft within its area of responsibility, whereas the responsibility of functional commands is to maintain combat readiness. Aside from the Training Command at Bangalore, the center for primary flight training is located at the Air Force Academy in Hyderabad, Andhra Pradesh, followed by operational training at various other schools. Advanced officer training for command positions is also conducted at the Defence Services Staff College; specialized advanced flight training schools are located at Bidar, Karnataka, and Hakimpet, Andhra Pradesh (also the location for helicopter training). Technical schools are found at a number of other locations. Here is a list of Commands:
- Operational Commands
- Central Air Command (CAC), headquartered at Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh
- Eastern Air Command (EAC), headquartered at Shillong, Meghalaya
- Southern Air Command (SAC), headquartered at Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala
- South Western Air Command (SWAC), headquartered at Gandhinagar, Gujarat
- Western Air Command (WAC), headquartered at Subroto Park, New Delhi
- Functional Commands
- Training Command (TC), headquartered at Bangalore, Karnataka
- Maintenance Command (MC), headquartered at Nagpur, Maharashtra
A Wing is a formation intermediate between a Command and a Squadron. It generally consists of two or three IAF Squadrons and Helicopter Units, along with Forward Base Support Units (FBSU). FBSUs do not have or host any Squadrons or Helicopter units but act as transit airbases for routine operations. In times of war, they can become fully fledged air bases playing host to various Squadrons. In all, about 47 Wings and 19 FBSUs make up the IAF. Wings are typically commanded by a Group Captain.
Squadrons are the field units and formations attached to static locations. Thus, a Flying Squadron is a sub-unit of an air force station which carries out the primary task of the IAF. All fighter squadrons are headed by a Commanding Officer with the rank of Wing Commander. Some Transport squadrons and Helicopter Units are headed by a Commanding Officer with the rank of Group Captain.
Flights are sub-divisions of Squadrons, commanded by a Squadron Leader.
Within this formation structure, IAF has several service branches for day-to-day operations. They are:
- Flying Branch
- Technical Branch
- Ground Branch
- Medical & Dental