After Independence, the different formations of the Indian Air Force were organized into two groups depending on the role they played. These were the No. 1 Operational Group and the No.2 Training Group.
The Indian Air Force is currently made up of seven commands. The Chief of Air Staff heads the Air Headquarters located in Delhi and is overall in charge of all the wings of the Indian Air Force. The chief is of the rank of Air Chief Marshal.
Commands Of The Indian Air Force
Each command is headed by an Air Officer Commander-in-Chief (AOC-in-C), with the rank of Air Marshal. Five of these, which deal with operations, were carved out of the erstwhile No.1 Operational Group. The other two commands, which handle training and maintenance, were originally part of the No. 2 Training Group.
The five operational commands are:
- Western Air Command, New Delhi: The command is in charge of the northern part of India including north-west Rajasthan, Punjab and Jammu and Kashmir. It has over 200 bases under it. It has seen action in all the major air operations that India has been involved in since Independence.
- Central Air Command, Allahabad: This command patrols the North-Central borders of India with Nepal and Tibet, from Himachal Pradesh in the west to Sikkim towards the east.
- Eastern Air Command, Shillong: Initially established in Calcutta (now Kolkata), the command was shifted to Shillong after the 1962 Indo-China conflict. It controls air operations in states which have a boundary with Tibet, Bangladesh and Myanmar (earlier Burma).
- Southern Air Command, Thiruvananthapuram: The newest command of the Indian Air Force was created in 1984 to meet emerging geopolitical realities around the southern peninsula in the Indian Ocean.
- South-Western Air Command, Gandhi Nagar: Set up in 1980, it includes most of Rajasthan, the whole of Gujarat, Goa and units in Pune and Mumbai.
There are two “functional” commands:
- Maintenance Command, Nagpur: The command is responsible for maintenance, repair, product support and sourcing of spares for aircraft and support services. It operates through a network of Base Repair Depots (BRDs), Equipment Depots (EDs), Air Storage Parks (ASPs) and allied units.
- Training Command, Bengaluru: Like the Maintenance Command, the Training Command was carved out of the No.2 Training Group formed after Independence.
Ranks Of The Indian Air Force
The highest rank is that of the Marshal of the Air Force. Arjan Singh, who passed away on 16 September 2017, is the only person to have been appointed to this rank. This is the highest rank in the Indian military, along with Field Marshal for the Indian Army and Admiral of the Navy for the Indian Navy. Singh was conferred with this honour in 2002.
Here is the rank system in the Indian Air Force, in descending order of seniority.
- Air Chief Marshal (The Chief of Air Staff)
- Air Marshal
- Air Vice-Marshal
- Air Commodore
- Group Captain
- Wing Commander
- Squadron Leader
- Flight Lieutenant
- Flying Officer
The Indian Air Force also has Junior Commissioned Officers (JCOs) of the rank of Master Warrant Officer, Warrant Officer and Junior Warrant Officer. The Non-Commissioned Officers (NCOs) category includes Sergeant, Corporal, Leading Aircraftsman and Airman.