Birth of HQ Training Command

   Air HQ was reorganized in 1948 and on 22nd July 1949, No.2(Training) Group was redesignated as Training Command. The Training Command originally had control over the ground training establishments only; the flying training continued to be controlled directly by Air HQ.   HQ Training Command occupied the buildings of HQ No.2(Training) Group RIAF at High Grounds in Bangalore with Air Cmde RHD Singh as the First AOC. Gp Capt R Atmaram was the first SASO of the Training Command.

Technical and Non-Technical Training

Prior to 1949, Technical officers commissioned through the ranks were trained at No.2 GTS Tamabaram, while direct entry officers were sent to UK for technical training.? In 1949, Government of India entered into contract with Air Service Training Limited, Hamble to establish and operate the Technical Training College at Jalahalli. In this college, training was imparted to direct entry technical officers and as also to those commissioned from the ranks in engines, electrical signals and armament branches.? In addition, both technical and educational training was imparted to young apprentices for long-term engagement in the Air Force. In the subsequent years, the British instructional staff at the college was gradually replaced by Indian officers. On 4 Jul 1956, an Indian Officer took over as the first Commandant of the college.


As in the case of officers training, ground training of airmen was reorganised on the all through training basis at the Ground Training Schools.? Under the all through training scheme, recruits received general service training and trade training at the same school.? The trade training was rationalised and divided amongst the training institutions in 1949, as follows:-

     (a)No.1 GTS All non-technical trades.

     (b)No.2 GTS Technical trades of airmen in airframe, engine and other allied engineering subjects, and photo trades.

     (c)No.3 GTS This school was opened on 31 October 1949 and part of the technical trades like signals, radar, electrical instruments, Armament and Airfield Safety Operator were transferred from No.2 GTS

   In 1960, the ground training activities were expanded to meet the increased requirements of airmen for the newly formed Units. This led to the formation of No.4 Ground Training School which imparted parallel training for the trade training being conducted at No.2 GTS.

In 1962, the Ground Training School were further rationalised and the schools were reorganised on trade basis. This led to the formation of No.5 and 6 Ground Training Schools. With this the following Ground Training Schools came in existence.

     (a)No.1 GTS (Sambra)All non-technical trades
     (b)No.2 GTS (Sambra)Technical trades and allied engineering and?photo.
     (c)No.3 GTS (Jalahalli)Technical trades of Signals and Electrical.
     (d)No.4 GTS (Tambaram)Same as No.2 GTS except photo.
     (e)No.5 GTS (Jalahalli)?Technical trades, Electrical and Instruments.
     (f)No.6 GTS (Jalahalli)Technical trades ?radar and electronics.

No. 4 GTS was closed in 1967 and the entire training of the trades trained at this school were merged with No.2 GTS.


Consequent to the Chinese attack in 1962, the Government of India decided to expand and modernise the Air Force. With this end in view an emergency training plan was drawn to provide trained and qualified personnel for the newly formed Units.

Under the emergency training plan officers courses at AFTC was curtained to increase the output. The training of airmen apprentices was discontinued to make room for increased training commitment of officers. The output of officers of the non-technical branches was doubted by reducing the course of one year to six months at AFAC.

The duration of training for majority of airmen trades, both technical and non-technical, was reduced to increase the output of GTSs. This emergency training plan was operative for about two years.? In 1965, airmen training reverted to pre-emergency pattern, except for a few trades and by 1968 officers training also reverted to pre-emergency pattern.?In 1954, vide Establishment No.2003-B Ministry of Defence letter No.Air HQ/20632/1/Ord & E/AF/2511/D(A-P) dated 16 Mar 54, the policy pages of HQ TC IAF was revised to exercise control of the Units in the following manner.

     (a)Functional and administrative Control

        (i)Training Command Communication Flight
        (ii)IAF Station, Jalahalli
        (iii)No.1 GTS
        (iv)No.2 GTS
        (v)No.3 GTS
        (vi)No.3 Air Force Academy (Coimbatore)
        (vii)Technical Training College
        (viii)No. 1 P & S Flt

     (b)Administrative Control

        (i)No. 2 Eqpt Depot, Bombay
        (ii)No. 3 Eqpt Depot, Avadi
        (iii)IAF Liaison Staff at HAL Bangalore
        (iv)Aviation Medicine Research Centre at HAL
        (v)P & F (Mov) Unit, Santa Cruz
        (vi)No.6 'X' MU, Gummidipindi
        (viii)No. 2 IAF Hospital

Flying Training

The first flying training school was improvised at Risalpur from a squadron based there. This training school could undertake a one time training of 38 pilots and 20 observers for the IAF and the RAF. Both initial and advanced training was carried out there. The school was however, inadequate to meet the requirements of training. As a result the following set-up emerged.

     (a)No.1 Initial Training Wing(ITW) This imparted training to IAF officer cadets in discipline, drill, physical training and elementary ground subjects. Initially the Wing was set up at Lahore and subsequently in 1942 shifted to Poona.? The duration of the course was increased from 10 weeks initially to 14 weeks. This period was again extended to 18 weeks in 1943.
     (b)No.1 and 2 Elementary Flying Training Schools (EFTS) These were located in 1942 at Begumpet (Hyderabad) and Jodhpur respectively. These schools provided elementary flying and ground training to IAF officer cadets and small number of RAF pilots. The course was initially for 10 weeks but later on extended to 12 weeks.
     (c)No.1 Service Flying Training School (SFTS) This was established at Ambala for intermediate and advanced flying training and ground training. The school was divided into intermediate and advanced training squadrons, duration being 10 and 11 weeks respectively.? In 1942, with the formation of an operational training Unit at Risalpur, both the intermediate and advanced training squadrons were combined and the duration of the entire course was reduced to 18 weeks.

Prior to being sent to ITW, the officer cadet pilot was given elementary flying experience at one of the civil flying clubs. After completion of his training at SFTS, the pilot was posted to a Unit to complete his operational training. The task of training was to train 150 pilots and 50 observers per annum. In 1942 the officer cadet pilots ceased to go to the flying clubs. Henceforth, on their acceptance for the IAF they went directly to the ITW. Prior to the entry of Japan into the war, training was mostly carried out on peace time standards.? In early 1942, however, a Fighter Operational Training Unit was formed at Risalpur and a Bomber Operational Training Unit at Peshawar.

The Fighter Operational Training consisted of a 12 weeks conversion course on to Hurricanes, including squadron training and gunnery training, and a four weeks course of fighter reconnaissance training.? From 1944 replacement pilots for ground attack squadrons underwent three weeks special ground attack course before being posted to the squadrons.

After Independence two Air Force Academies at Ambala and Jodhpur were formed to impart flying training to cadets. Training on Prentice/Tigermoth and Harvard used to be imparted to trainees prior to commissioning.? The total flying training consisted of 85.00 hours on Tigermoth/Prentice and 100.00 hours on Harvard.

The trainees after the award of wings from Jun 51 were sent to Conversion Training Unit in Hakimpet. Training on Tempests/Spitfires (42.00 hours used to be imparted here, till 1953, after which Vampires were inducted when the name was changed to Jet Training Wing.? Some trainees received training on Spitfires and some on Vampires during 1953-55.? From 1953 Tempests were withdrawn while in 1956 Spitfires were withdrawn and only Vampires were used for training.? Trainees passing out from CTU/JTW were sent to various fighter squadrons.

The trainees earmarked for transport flying used to report to Conversion and Training Squadron (formed in Aug 47) at Agra. They used to receive Dakota conversion after which they were sent to various transport squadrons.

Later No.1 Air Force Academy was closed and the other redesignated as Air Force Flying College (Jodhpur). Trainees used to receive flying training on HT-2 and Harvards after which they came to transport and fighter streams. Transport stream received training at TTW Begumpet. Fighter stream received training at Fighter Training Wing, Hakimpet, on Vampire aircraft. ?This was the new name for JTW. The trainees used to get commissioned after Advanced Stage but they used to get wings only on completion of Applied Stage. After the award of wings the trainee officers used to be inducted into fighter and transport squadrons.

On 15 September 1954 all flying establishments were also transferred to Training Command which made responsible for the entire training commitment of the IAF. After the Chinese aggression training of pilots was intensified. Another training Unit called Pilot Training Establishment was set up. Now both at AFFC and PTE trainees received training on HT-2 and Harvard. They streamed out to TTW Begumpet and FTW Hakimpet. To cope with extra trainees conversion Units for transport and fighter aircraft were established. Now, the trainees started receiving wings and commission on the same date.

At Pilot Training Establishment the Trainee pilots flew HT-2 ac only and at Air Force Flying College flew the Harvard ac. This was done in order to have only one type of aircraft at each place. With the commissioning of the new Air Force Academy near Hyderabad, all flying training has been centralised in the South, except for Basic Flying Training School ( B F T S) located at Allahabad which conducts training on HPT-32 ac.

In September 1973, HJT-16 (Kiran), the indigenously manufactured trainer aircraft, replace the Vampire and, consequently the flying training, once again, had to be reorganised.? AFA started imparting training to pilots on the Harvard and the Kiran jet trainer. In 1975 the Harvard aircraft was phased out and AFA now imparts flying training on Kiran aircraft, after which the trainees get commissioned.? To argument the increased commitments, the tandem-seated trainer aircraft ISKRAS were obtained from Poland in Oct 1975 and these are now being used at Hakimpet for training. 

Initially separate intakes used to be followed for pilots and navigators.? During World War II, due to high rate of wastage in pilot training, those cadets who did not make the grade as pilots used to be diverted to train as navigators. This training was initially carried out Navigation and Signals School at Jodhpur and the trainees used to pass out along with the pilot trainees. From 1957 the trainees received initial training only at N&SS were commissioned after advanced training at TTW.

As in the case of Navigation training, Air Signallers training for selected officers and airmen was imparted at N&SS at Jodhpur. This school was shifted to Begumpet in Jan 68.The task of HQ Training Command, IAF continued to increase and a number of additions had to be made in the organization. Many amendments were issued in the Establishment of the Command Headquarters and a number of posts were added. ?On 08th Apr 1960, the President of India sanctioned upgrading of the rank of the post of AOC, Training Command from Air Cmde GD to Air Vice Marshal and re-designated the post as AOC-in-C. The post of SASO was however, upgraded to the rank of Air Cmde only in Sep 62.

Training of Foreign Nationals

Apart from training its own requirement of flying and ground crew, the IAF has also programmes of training foreign nationals. The early beneficiaries of this programme were Burma, Indonesia and the UAR. So far, more than 2600 personnel from friendly countries such as Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Nigeria, Kenya, Botswana, USA, Afganistan, Bangladesh, Ghana, Indonesia, Maldives, Mauritius, Lebanon, Nepal , Tanzania, Zambia etc have been trained by the Indian Air Force.

In addition to training foreign nationals in India, we have also sent to Air Force Training Teams to UAR, Iraq, Ethiopia, Zambia, Egypt, Iran, Nigeria and Singapore.