The Commissioned and Non-Commissioned Officers are distinguished by their duties, ranks, authority and pay. Non-Commissioned Officers are soldiers with specific skills and duties like training, recruiting and technical. They are referred as "backbone." The Commissioned Officers are the part of management. They give Non-Commissioned Officers and lower ranks their missions, assignments and orders. The Non-Commissioned Officers often supervise lower ranks to ensure that the assignments are done properly.
Types of Commission in Indian Air Force
Candidates who want to join Indian Air Force should know the types Commission they can opt. They should also know the various modes of entries for each type of Commission. There are only two types of Commission in Indian Air Force. These are:
Permanent Commission (PC)
A Permanent Commission means that the Officer will work till the age of superannuation. Men and women both can join in the Permanent Commission.
After 10+2; the candidates can join IAF Flying Branch through National Defence Academy (NDA) or after graduation, they can join through CDS exam conducted by UPSC every year.
Technical Branch and Ground Duty Branch
The candidates can join Technical and Ground Duty Branch of IAF after Graduation through Air Force Common Admission Test (AFCAT) exam conducted by IAF every year.
As of now, Women Officers of Education and Accounts Branch only are considered for Permanent Commission.
Short Service Commission (SSC)
If the candidates opt for Short Service Commission then they will be working for a limited period. It could be 10-14 years based on the branch selected by them. Both Men and Women can opt for Short Service Commission.
All graduates and post graduates can join Flying Branch through AFCAT. The engagement period is 14 years from the date of commissioning and it is not extendable.
Technical Branch and Ground Duty Branch
All graduates and post graduates can join Technical and Ground Duty Branch through AFCAT. The engagement period is for a period of 10 years. An extension of 4 years can be granted.
Commissioning of Officers in the Indian Air Force
Indian Air Force, the air wing of the India’s Defence Services, has the rank structure based on the structure of the Royal Air Force. Let us look at the rank structure of the Indian Air Force. There are three types of Commissioned Officers in the Indian Air Force. These are: Commissioned Officers, Junior Commissioned Officers and Non-Commissioned Officers.
Non-Commissioned Officers of the IAF
It is the lowest rank in the IAF. The Airmen join at this rank only in the IAF. After the promotion, the Aircraftsman becomes Leading Aircraftman. Aircraftmen get the salary in the pay matrix 3.
Technically, Leading Aircraftman is not a rank but it is just a title given to the Non-Commissioned Officers in the IAF. In this post, the pay matrix does not change. On getting the promotion, Leading Aircraftman becomes the Corporal.
It is a military rank which corresponds to commanding a section or squad of soldiers. To become a Corporal, Airmen need to serve a minimum of 5 years. After promotion, they get into the pay matrix 4.
This rank is just below the Junior Warrant Officer. To become a Sergeant, Airmen need to serve a minimum of 13 years and 6 months. After promotion, they get into the pay matrix 5.
Junior Commissioned Officers of the IAF
Junior Warrant Officer
Generally, Airmen with technical specialisation hold the rank of Junior Warrant Officer. To become a Junior Warrant Officer, Airmen need to serve a minimum of 17 years. After the promotion, they get into the pay matrix 6.
It is the second highest rank in the Junior Commissioned Officer rank. To become a Warrant Officer, Airmen need to serve a minimum of 23 years. After the promotion, they get into the pay matrix 7.
Master Warrant Officer
In this rank, an Officer is designated by warrant, unlike Commissioned Officers who get designated as an Officer by a Commission. It is the highest rank in Junior Commissioned Officers. To become a Master Warrant Officer, Airmen need to serve a minimum of 28 years. After the promotion, they get into the pay matrix 8.
Commissioned Officers of the IAF
A Flying Officer is a commissioned rank which is not only held by the Officers who fly an aircraft but also by the Ground Duty Officers or Air Crew Officers. The post of Flying Officer comes under Time Scale Promotion. On promotion, Flying Officer becomes Flying Lieutenant.
It is also a commissioned rank. The officer in this rank can never be addressed as only “Lieutenant”. The post of Flying Lieutenant comes under Time Scale Promotion. On promotion, Flying Lieutenant becomes Squadron Leader.
A Squadron Leader is below the rank of Wing Commander. On completion of 6 years of total service, an Officer is granted the rank of Squadron Leader. The post of Squadron Leader comes under Time Scale Promotion. On promotion, Squadron Leader becomes Wing Commander.
The rank of Wing Commander is below the rank of the Group Captain but it is a senior commissioned rank. An Officer becomes a Wing Commander after 12 years of service. Officers must pass promotion exam ‘C’ to become a Wing Commander. On promotion, Wing Commander becomes Group Captain.
It is a senior commissioned rank which is equivalent to Colonel in the army. Promotions above the rank of Wing Commander are based on seniority and merit. An Officer of the Flying Branch will become eligible for consideration to the rank of Group Captain after completing 16 years of service.
It is a single star rank which is the junior most rank in the star category. The Air Commodore Officers act as direct support to the Commanding Air Officer.
Air Vice Marshal
The Air vice Marshal is a two-star Officer rank in the Indian Air Force. This rank is just below the rank of the Air Marshal.
It is a three-star rank in the IAF and is held by the Officers who usually hold very senior appointments. This rank is just below the rank of the Air Chief Marshal.
Air Chief Marshal
This is the second highest rank and a four-star rank in the IAF. An Air Chief Marshal holds the position of Chief of the Air Staff (CAS), who is the professional head and the Commander of the IAF.
Marshal of the Air Force
Marshal of the Air Force is the highest rank in the IAF which is an honorary war time rank. This rank is the five-star rank. Many countries have this rank, but not all of them use it.
Above all these ranks, there comes the President of India who is the Supreme Commander of the IAF.