I am a Plus Two student and my ambition is to become an Indian Air Force pilot. Please help me know more about the National Defence Academy (NDA) examination, eligibility requirements and the mode of recruitment to the Air Force.



The Union Public Service Commission (UPSC) conducts the NDA and the Indian Naval Academy examinations twice a year for admission to the Army, the Navy and the Air Force.

The notification will be published during April-May and October-November in leading national dailies and the Employment News weekly for the examinations to be held during September-October and April-May, respectively.

Nearly 400 vacancies will be filled every year. A candidate is required to specify in the online application form the services for which he wishes to be considered for selection in the order of preference.

The NDA written examination will be held in centres such as Thiruvananthapuram, Kochi, Madurai, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata. The examination will have objective-type questions to test mathematical skills for 300 marks and general ability for 600 marks. The Service Selection Board interview carries 900 marks.

Unmarried boys between 16-and-a-half and 19 years of age may apply. The educational qualification required for joining the Army is a pass in Plus Two and the Air Force and the Navy and the executive branch course of the Naval Academy is a pass in Plus Two with Physics and Mathematics. Candidates appearing for the Plus Two examination may also apply.

The candidates must be physically and medically fit. The minimum acceptable height is 157.5 cm (162.5 cm for the Air Force). The detailed eligibility criteria will be given in the notification published in Employment News and on the UPSC website, www.upsc.gov.in


Both papers will be of two-and-a-half hours each, and the question papers will be set in English and Hindi.

Paper I Mathematics covers Algebra, Matrices and Determinants, Trigonometry, Analytical Geometry of two and three dimensions, Differential Calculus, Integral Calculus and Differential Equations, Vector Algebra and Statistics and Probability.

Paper II General Ability covers English, Grammar and Usage, Vocabulary and Comprehension and so on to test proficiency in English and General Knowledge, which broadly covers Physics, Chemistry, General Sciences, Social Studies, Geography and Current events.

There will be negative marking. The commission will prepare a list of candidates to appear before the Services Selection Board for intelligence and personality tests.

Before the Board, only those who qualify in the first-day test will be allowed to take the remaining tests. One should secure minimum qualifying marks separately in the written examination and the officer potentiality test. Every candidate for the Air Force should clear the Pilot Aptitude Battery Test.

The candidates will be put to intelligence tests, both verbal and non-verbal, designed to assess their basic intelligence. They will be put to group tests, such as group discussion, group planning and outdoor group tasks, and asked to give brief lectures on specified subjects. All these tests are intended to judge the mental calibre of a candidate.

A candidate recommended by the SSB will undergo a medical examination. The candidate must be in good physical and mental health and free from any disease or disability which is likely to interfere with the efficient performance of military duties.

The cost of training, including of accommodation, books, uniforms, boarding and medical treatment, will be borne by the Union government.


The selected candidates are given preliminary training, both academic and physical, for three years at the NDA at Khadakwasla in Pune. The first two-and-a-half years are common to the three wings. The cadets, on passing out, will be awarded B.Sc., B.Sc. (Computer) or BA degree from Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.

The candidates selected to the Naval Academy will be given preliminary training, both academic and physical, for four years at the Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala. They will be awarded a B.Tech. degree on successful completion of training.

On passing out from the National Defence Academy, Army cadets go to the Indian Military Academy, Dehradun, Naval cadets to the Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala, and Air Force cadets to Air Force Academy, Hyderabad.

At the Indian Military Academy (IMA), Army cadets are given strenuous military training for one year aimed at turning them into officers capable of leading infantry sub-units. On successful completion of training, the gentlemen cadets are granted permanent commission in the rank of Lieutenant.

The Naval cadets are given further training at the Indian Naval Academy, Ezhimala, for a year, on successful completion of which they are promoted to the rank of sub-lieutenants.

Air Force cadets receive flying training for a year and a half. However, at the end of one year of training, they are given provisional commission in the rank of flying officer.

After successful completion of further training of six months, they are absorbed as permanent commissioned officers on a year’s probation.

Lieutenants in the Army, sub-lieutenants in the Navy and flying officers in Air Force come under the scale of pay of Rs. 15,600-39,100.

Details about recruitment of various positions in the Indian Air Force can be had from www.careerairforce.nic.in.

Gopakumar Karakonam