TRAINING BEFORE FORMATION OF TRAINING COMMAND
The first batch of six Indian Air Force officers was trained at Royal Air Force College, Cranwell, UK between 1930 and 1932. Until 1939, the pilots inducted into the IAF continued to be trained at Cranwell. Technical officers were also trained in the UK, while the technicians (airmen) were trained at Aircraft Depot, Karachi, under the supervision of British Non-Commissioned Officers. In September 1939, during the outbreak of World War II, the IAF had a strength of 16 officers and 144 airmen (then called Hawai Sepoys).
The outbreak of World War II and the leaning of Japan towards the Axis powers led to the creation of the Indian Air Force as a self-supporting force for the South Eastern Theatre of War. During World War II, the British also realized the important role IAF could play to counter the Japanese aggression. This led to the rapid expansion of the IAF to 10 squadrons. Consequent to the expansion, the requirement of pilots and technical personnel increased. However, it became impossible for Indians to go to the UK for training. It was therefore decided to create training facilities in the country itself.
The first Flying Training School was improvised from a squadron based at Risalpur, where, both initial and advanced training were carried out. No.1 Initial Training Wing (ITW) was formed at Walton in Lahore in 1940 for training IAF officer cadets in discipline, drill, physical activities and elementary ground subjects. A School of Technical Training was set up at Ambala in 1940 to train technical personnel. A Recruits’ Training Centre and a Non-Technical Training Centre were also formed at Lahore.
On 05 May 1941, the School of Technical Training, Ambala was bifurcated into No.1 and No.2 Ground Training Schools (GTS). No.1 GTS trained Non-technical tradesmen. Soon, No.2 GTS moved to Secunderabad and was assigned the task of imparting Technical training. Thereafter, in early 1947, No.1 GTS moved to Jalahalli and No.2 GTS to Tambaram.
In 1942, No.1 and No.2 Elementary Flying Training Schools (EFTS) were established at Begumpet (Hyderabad) and Jodhpur respectively for providing elementary flying and ground training to IAF officer cadets and a limited number of RAF pilots. No.1 Service Flying Training School (SFTS) was formed at Ambala for intermediate & advanced flying training and ground training. In 1943, ITW was shifted to Pune and thereafter, on 11 July 1946, to Coimbatore.
The partition of India and Pakistan led to the division of assets of the IAF, including the training establishments. These assets were divided on the basis of the designated international boundary. Training establishments located within the dominion of India remained with India while those located in Pakistan went over to Pakistan. Since training was in progress at the time of partition, it was decided that until such time the current courses were completed, joint training would continue. This combined training continued till the end of October 1947. Thereafter the trainees and staff joined their country of option.
On 15 August 1947, the Air Force training establishments located in India were: (a) Initial Training Wing, Coimbatore (b) Elementary Flying Training School, Jodhpur (c) Service Flying Training School, Ambala (d) No.1 Ground Training School, Jalahalli (e) No.2 Ground Training School, Tambaram
BIRTH OF TRAINING COMMAND
As on the day of independence, No.2 (Indian) Group RAF located at Bangalore, with Air Cmde CD Adams as Air Officer Commanding (AOC), was responsible for Ground Training. Both the Flying Training Schools, however, remained under the direct control of Air HQ. On 15 September 1947, No.2 (Indian) Group RAF was renamed as No.2 (Training) Group RIAF and Air Cmde Narendra took over as AOC on 03 October 1947.
Air HQ was reorganized in 1948, and on 22 July 1949, No. 2 (Training) Group was renamed as Training Command. HQ Training Command occupied the buildings of HQ No.2 (Training) Group RIAF at Bangalore High Grounds. Air Cmde RHD Singh was the first AOC. Gp Capt R Atmaram was the first SASO of Training Command. On 15 September 1954, all flying establishments were also transferred to Training Command making it responsible for the entire training in the IAF.
HQ Training Command moved from High Grounds, Bangalore to Hebbal on 31 May 1958. The permanent establishment of HQ Training Command at Hebbal was finally completed in 1968. The task of HQ Training Command continued to increase and a number of additions had to be made in the organization. Many amendments were issued to the Establishment of Command HQ and a number of posts were added. On 08 April 1960, the President of India sanctioned upgradation of the rank of the post of AOC, Training Command from Air Commodore 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 Commodore only in September 1962.
Post Independence in July 1949, a major change took place in the training pattern of the IAF and an ‘All Through’ Training Scheme was introduced. Advance Flying School at Ambala was rechristened No.1 Air Force Academy while Elementary Flying School at Jodhpur became No.2 Air Force Academy for training on Prentice/Tiger Moth and Harvard aircraft.
In 1951, Ambala ceased to be a training base to make way for its operational exploitation. The Tiger Moth and Harvard aircraft of No.1 AFA, which were used for basic training, were relocated to Begumpet and No.1 AFA Ambala was reestablished at Hakimpet as Conversion Training Unit (Fighters), flying Spitfire and Tempest aircraft. Pilot Trainees initially went to No.1 AFA (Begumpet) and No.2 AFA (Jodhpur) for Basic Flying Training on Tiger Moths and Harvards. Thereafter, Fighter Trainees went to Conversion Training Unit (Fighters) at Hakimpet to fly the Spitfires and Tempest. The Transport Trainees went to the Conversion Training Unit (Transport) at Yelahanka to fly Dakotas.
Towards the end of 1951, the first HT-2 aircraft, indigenously designed by HAL, was introduced for basic training. In a year, the HT-2 had completely replaced the Prentice aircraft.
In 1957, Conversion Training Unit (Transport) was split to No.1 Transport Training Wing (Agra) and No.2 Transport Training Wing (Begumpet). Both were equipped with Dakota Aircraft. The same year, No.1 AFA wound down at Begumpet and No.2 AFA (Jodhpur) was rechristened as Air Force Flying College (AFFC). In 1958, with the phasing out of piston engine fighters from the Indian Air Force, conversion and Training Unit (Fighters) at Hakimpet was rechristened as Jet Training Wing (JTW). The JTW was equipped with Vampire Aircraft. In 1959, a Jet Bomber Conversion Unit was also established at Agra, equipped with Canberra Aircraft.
In 1963, an additional Jet Training Wing was set up at Bidar. This was christened No.2 JTW, with Hakimpet becoming No.1 JTW. The same year, a Pilot Training Establishment (PTE) was established at Bamrauli to impart basic flying training to pilots on the indigenous HT-2 Aircraft. With this, pilots started receiving basic training on HT-2 aircraft at PTE, Bamrauli and advanced training on Harvard aircraft at AFFC, Jodhpur. By the end of 1964, Jet training was once again brought under the sole purview of Hakimpet. No.1 and No.2 JTW were merged to form Fighter Training Wing at Hakimpet. In 1966, PTE, Bamrauli, shifted to Bidar to be rechristened as Elementary Flying School (EFS). The same year, an operational conversion unit was set up at Jamnagar equipped with Hunter Aircraft. In 1968, the No.1 and No.2 Transport Training Wing, flying Dakotas, were merged to form the Transport Training Wing at Yelahanka.
In the year 1967, the dream of establishing Air Force Academy (AFA) took first step to fruition with the laying of the foundation stone on 11 October 1967 by the then President of India, Dr Zakir Hussein. The Academy, more than a dream, was a vision to consolidate the ab-initio training of all officers of the Indian Air Force under one roof. The Air Force Flying College (Jodhpur) was relocated to the Air Force Academy. The Air Force Academy was formally inaugurated on 16 January 1971 by the then CM of Andhra Pradesh. The first Graduation Parade / Passing Out Parade (POP) at the Air Force Academy was held on 15 February 1975 with the passing out of the 113rd Pilot’s Course.
By 1973, AFA had received Kiran Jet trainers. Soon, the Harvard trainers were phased out and replaced by Kiran MK-1 aircraft for Stage-II training. Due to deterioration in the condition of Vampire aircraft at FTW, Hakimpet Iskra jet trainers from Poland were inducted between October 1975 and May 1976. At this point of time, Stage-I training was being conducted on HT-2 at AFA & EFS Bidar, Stage-II training on Kiran MK-I at AFA and Stage-III training (called applied stage) on Iskra at FTW, Hakimpet. This continued till 1983, when the role of EFS was enhanced to include Stage-II training on Kiran MK-I aircraft alongside AFA. From January 1975, HS-748 aircraft replaced the Dakota at Yelahanka and the course was renamed Transport Conversion Course (TCC).
1984 saw the induction of HPT-32 aircraft, which was an indigenously built piston engine basic trainer. Soon all ab-initio training was consolidated at AFA and EFS Bidar closed down the same year. However, in 1987, Basic Flying Training School (BFTS) started functioning at Bamrauli, Allahabad, equipped with HPT-32 aircraft for undertaking part of Stage-I training. In 1988, AF Station Bidar was equipped with Kiran Mk-II, in addition to the already existing Kiran Mk-I aircraft, for Stage-II training.
By the early 90s, the training pattern had stabilised with AFA & BFTS undertaking Stage-I training and AFA, AF Station Bidar & FTW Hakimpet undertaking Stage-II training. This continued till December 2004 when Iskras were finally phased out. From June 2010, HS-748 training was discontinued and An-32 & Do-228 aircraft were used for Stage II and Stage III training of Transport Pilots.
A major change in training happened in 2009. A decision was taken by Air Headquarters to ground the entire HPT-32 aircraft fleet. The veritable Kiran Mk-I aircraft was pressed into service with a highly abridged syllabus for Stage-I training. In July 2013, Pilatus PC-7 Mk-II aircraft was inducted for Stage-I training and the 194 Pilot’s Course was the first course to train on the new aircraft. The same has continued ever since.
On completion of Stage I at AFA, the trainees are trifurcated. Fighter trainees move to FTW at Hakimpet and fly the Kiran. Transport trainees move to Yelahanka and train on the Dornier Do-228 & An-32. Helicopter trainees move to HTS at Hakimpet and train on the Chetak. On completion of Stage-II, the trainees are commissioned and awarded wings. After commissioning, the fighter trainees move to Stage-III at Bidar for further six months on Hawk followed by another six months at Kalaikunda before moving on to Operational Squadrons. Transport pilots continue training on Dornier & An-32 at Yelahanka and then move on to the Operational Squadrons. Helicopter trainees carry out their Stage III training on Chetak at HTS or on Mi-17 at Yelahanka before moving to operational squadrons.
Before World War II, a separate intake was followed for pilots and navigators. However, during World War II, due to the high rate of wastage in pilot training, those cadets who did not make the grade as pilots were trained as navigators. At the beginning this training was carried out at the Navigation and Signals School (N&SS) at Jodhpur and the trainees passed out along with the pilot trainees. The school was shifted to Begumpet in January 1968. Currently the trainees receive initial training at N&SS, Begumpet, and after commissioning complete their advance training at Yelahanka on An-32 or the Hawk at Bidar.
Trainees who join the Flying branch of the IAF come from two backgrounds – either after graduating from the National Defence Academy, Khadakvasla near Pune or as direct entry cadets. Proficient young airmen are also selected to become pilots.
Towards fulfilling the constitutional obligation of giving equal opportunities to women, the Air Force has taken the initiative to induct women candidates into flying branches as pilots on fighters, transport and helicopters. The first batch of women transport and helicopter pilots graduated in December 1994 and women fighter pilots were inducted in June 2016.
Prior to 1949, direct entry officers of the Technical Branch were trained in the UK. In 1949, a Technical Training College (TTC) was established at Jalahalli in collaboration with Air Service Training Ltd, Hamble, UK. The college imparted training in Engines, Electrical, Signals and Armament. The British instructional staff was gradually replaced by Indian officers in the early 50’s. On 06 July 1956, Gp Capt MJ Kriplani took over as the first Indian Commandant of the college. The college was renamed as Air Force Technical College (AFTC) in 1957.
Presently Air Force inducts technically qualified candidates from civil institutions through selection boards in the two sub-branches, viz., Aeronautical Engineering (Mechanical) or Aeronautical Engineering (Electronics). Both Short Service and Permanent Commissioned officer trainees undergo 22 weeks Joint Training at Air Force Academy, Dundigal. On successful completion of the Joint Training Phase, the trainee officers proceed to Air Force Technical College, Jalahalli for 46 weeks specialized training on aeronautical and other systems related subjects. The first batch of women officers was inducted for training at Air Force Technical College in April 1993.
The training at Air Force Technical College is followed by system specific training at Technical Type Training Schools where an AE officer is specialized in any of the systems grouped broadly under aircraft, helicopters, guided weapons, radars, communication systems etc.
TECHNICAL TRAINING: AIRMEN
Training of airmen commenced at Karachi Aircraft Depot in 1931. The airmen, after being trained at the Depot, were sent to the squadron for on-the-job training under the supervision of British non-commissioned officers.
After independence, with the expansion of the IAF and the consequent need to train a larger number of airmen recruits, No.4 Ground Training School was established at Kanpur and No.5 and No.6 GTS at Jalahalli in the 1960s. No.2 GTS Tambaram and No.4 GTS at Kanpur trained airmen of Airframe, Engine and allied engineering trades. No.3 GTS imparted training in Signals and Electrical trades; No.5 GTS in Electrical and Instrument trades and No.6 GTS in Radar and Electronic trades. Photo trades were trained at No.2 GTS.
In 1980s, the schools were restructured and rechristened namely Communication Training Institute (CTI), Electronic Training Institute (ETI), Electrical and Instrumentation Training Institute (E&ITI), Mechanical Training Institute (MTI), Workshop Training Institute (WTI) and Mechanical Transport Training Institute (MTTI).
All Through Training (ATT) pattern of training which was in vogue till 2000 in all these training institutes was revised to introduce Joint Basic Phase Training for airmen at Air Force Station Belgavi. All ab initio airmen recruits were subject to indoctrination training at the same location, before proceeding for trade specific training at different trade training institutes.
In 2004, the concept of Just-in-time Training (JITT) was introduced. Implementation of JITT evolved into the Encapsulated Pattern of Training (EPT) till March 2006 and then Modular Pattern of Training (MPT) till December 2013. The new Training Policy on Integrated Pattern of Training (IPT) was introduced from January 2014.
All these institutes are tasked with regular in-service courses for training airmen from field units. CTI has been undertaking a Quality Assurance Course for both officers and Airmen.
NON-TECHNICAL TRAINING: OFFICERS
Training of the Non-Technical ground duty branch officers was conducted at the Initial Training Wing, Coimbatore, in the early 40s. In 1957 the Initial Training Wing was given its present name – Air Force Administrative College. The college continued to train officers of Non-technical Ground Duty branches, namely Administration, Logistics, Accounts, Education and Meteorology till 1975. In 1975, the training was shifted to Air Force Academy.
At present the trainees of Flying, Technical and Non-Technical ground duty branches undergo six months of Joint Training at AFA. This is termed Stage-I training. Trainees of Non-Technical Ground Duty branches thereafter continue their Stage-II training at the Academy itself for another 24 weeks after which they are commissioned as officers into the IAF.
The newly commissioned officers of Administration, Logistics, Accounts and Education branches get posted to units / stations. Officers of Administration (Air Traffic Control) continue at AFA for another 24 weeks of specialized training at Air Traffic Control Officers’ Training Establishment. Officers of Administration (Fighter Controller) proceed to Air Defence College at Memaura for 24 weeks of specialized training. Officers of the Meteorology branch proceed to Air Force Administrative College for 16 weeks of training (Initial Forecasters Course).
The first batch of women cadets were inducted in the Non-Technical branches in June 1993.
NON-TECHNICAL TRAINING: AIRMEN
A Non-Technical Training Centre for airmen recruits was set up at Lahore in 1943 and then shifted to Hyderabad in the same year. It was renamed as No.1 Ground Training School. The school was shifted to Jalahalli in 1947 and again to Sambra in 1962. In 1980, it was renamed as Administrative Training Institute. Like technical trades, the training of non-technical trades was restructured in 2000 and 2004. The non-technical training institutions were reorganized in 2005. Presently, the different institutions which conduct training of airmen of non-technical trades are the Basic Training Institute, Non-Technical Training Institute, Air Force School of Physical Fitness, Air Force Police & Security Training Institute and Medical Training Centre.
TRAINING OF MEDICAL OFFICERS
Medical graduates from Armed Forces Medical College and Civil Medical Institutions are inducted into the IAF as Medical Officers. The Medical officers undergo an initial orientation course – the Medical Officers’ Basic Course, part of which is being conducted at Air Force Academy from October 2006. Institutes like Command Hospital, Bangalore and Institute of Aerospace Medicine, Bangalore conduct PG and other specialist courses thereafter.
TRAINING OF NURSING OFFICERS AND MEDICAL ASSISTANTS
Command Hospital Air Force, Bangalore conducts a two-year course for Nursing Officers. In the case of Medical Assistants, they undergo the Trade Phase at Medical Training Centre, Bangalore after completion of JBPT at the Basic Training Institute. Their Hospital phase training is conducted at various Air Force hospitals.
TRAINING OF FOREIGN NATIONALS
Apart from training its own Flying and Ground crew, the IAF also trains nationals of friendly foreign countries. The early beneficiaries of this programme were Burma, Indonesia and the UAR. Many personnel from countries such as Sri Lanka, Malaysia, Nigeria, Kenya, Botswana, USA, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Ghana, Indonesia, Maldives, Mauritius, Lebanon, Nepal, Zambia etc have been trained by the IAF.
QUALITY OF TRAINING
Quality control is maintained on all types of training in the IAF not only at the training units but also at specialized training establishments. Training Command ensures that the trainees passing out possess the necessary skills and knowledge for effective realization at the operational units.