The Indian Air Force is divided into five operational and two functional commands. An Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief with the rank of Air Marshal heads each Command. The purpose of an operational command is to conduct military operations using aircraft within its area of responsibility. Aside from the Training Command at Bangalore, the primary flight training is done at the Air Force Academy, Dundigul (located in Hyderabad), followed by operational training at various other schools.
- Central Air Command (CAC), Allahabad, Uttar Pradesh
- Eastern Air Command (EAC), Shillong, Meghalaya
- Southern Air Command (SAC), Thiruvananthapuram, Kerala
- South Western Air Command (SWAC), Gandhinagar, Gujarat
- Western Air Command (WAC), New Delhi
The role of a Functional Command is to maintain, rain and administer the Air Force. The various Commands are:
- Training Command (TC), Bangalore, Karnataka
- Maintenance Command (MC), Nagpur, Maharashtra
A wing is a formation. It generally consists of two or three IAF squadrons and helicopter units, along with forward base support units. A group captain typically commands wings.
Squadrons and units
Squadrons are the field units attached to a Station. For example, No 2 Squadron is located at Ambala. Thus, a flying squadron or unit of an Air Force Station carries out the primary task of the IAF. A fighter squadron consists of 18 aircraft; all fighter squadrons are headed by a commanding officer of the rank of Wing Commander.
Flights are sub-divisions of squadrons, commanded by a Squadron Leader. Each flight consists of two sections.
The smallest unit is the section, led by a Flight Lieutenant. Each section consists of three aircraft.
Integrated Space Cell
An Integrated Space Cell, which is jointly operated by all the three services of the Indian Armed Forces, the civilian Department of Space and the Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has been set up to utilise more effectively the country's space based assets for military purposes. This uses space technology including satellites.
Unlike an aerospace command, where the air force controls most of its activities, the Integrated Space Cell envisages co-operation and co-ordination between the three services as well as civilian agencies dealing with space. India currently has some remote sensing satellites in orbit. Though most are not meant to be dedicated military satellites, some can also be used for military applications.
Important satellites include:
- Technology Experiment Satellite (TES)
- RISAT-2 capable of imaging in all-weather conditions and has a resolution of one metre
- CARTOSAT-2, CARTOSAT-2A and CARTOSAT-2B
IAF has several service branches for day-to-day operations. Broadly, the Air Force has three branches with further sub-streams:
Ground Duty Branch