New Delhi: Next year, the Indian Air Force will get its first batch of weapon systems officers for handling missiles, drones and space-based systems, said Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal V R Chaudhari on September 20.
At an event in New Delhi, Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari said, “We’ve got the government sanction for establishing this branch completely. The Air Force Common Admission Test was conducted a few weeks ago for the selection of candidates to join this branch. The first batch of 33 officer cadets will join the (IAF) academy at the beginning of next year and will get commissioned at the end of next year as weapon system branch officers.”
The government approved opening up a new branch last year – the first one since independence – to handle weapon systems, freeing the fighter pilots for their core competence, flying combat jets.
A dedicated weapon system school would be set up at Air Force Station, Begumpet, the IAF chief said.
The new branch will have four sub-branches – to operate the weapons in twin and multi-crew aircraft; for handling space-based intelligence and satellite images; to operate remotely piloted aircraft and mission commanders and operators for surface-to-ground weapons, surface-to-surface missiles and close-in weapon systems.
The training will occur in two stages – the first stage will be conducted at the IAF academy at Dundigal, whereas the second part of the training will be conducted at the new school at Begumpet. The syllabus would be common for all the four sub-branches.
Last year while making the announcement, he stated that the introduction of such a branch would save the air force of Rs 3,400 crore on training – as trained pilots would not be taken away for non-flying tasks.
The IAF will post its officers as Additional Defence Attaches in Armenia, Spain and Ivory Coast. A Liaison Officer will also be posted in the American Pacific Air Command, Air Chief Marshal Chaudhari said.