Harman Patil (Editor)

Chief of the Air Staff (India)

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Central Secretariat

1 April 1955

President of India

Chief of the Air Staff (India)

Term length
3 years or till the age of 62, whichever is earlier.

Commander-in-Chief, Indian Air Force

First holder
Air Marshal Subroto Mukherjee

Chief of the Air Staff is the commander and the highest-ranking officer of the Indian Air Force. The position is abbreviated as CAS in the Indian Air Force cables & communication, and is usually held by a four-star officer of the rank Air Chief Marshal. The current CAS is Air Chief Marshal Birender Singh Dhanoa who took office on 31 December 2016, following the retirement of Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha.


The position was held by an Air Commodore (1919–1923), by an Air Vice-Marshal (1923–1929) and by an Air Marshal (1929–1965). In 1966, the position was upgraded to that of an Air Chief Marshal. The highest rank in the IAF is Marshal of the Air Force, which is conferred by the President of India only in exceptional circumstances. It has only been given once in January 2002 to Marshal of the Indian Air Force Arjan Singh. This is a five-star rank and is equivalent to a Field Marshal in the Army and Admiral of the Fleet in the Navy.

Air Officer Commander-in-Chief, Air Forces in India (1938–1947)

(On 15 August 1947, the unified RIAF was separated into the Royal Indian Air Force and the Royal Pakistan Air Force)

The following tables chronicle the appointees to the office of the Chief of the Air Staff or its preceding positions since the independence of India.

(**Seconded from the Royal Air Force)

Marshal of the Air Force

Only once has this rank ever been given:

  • Arjan Singh – Marshal of the Air Force in January 2002 (the highest rank ever given in the history of the Indian Air force). It is equal to a five star General or a Field Marshal in the Army and Admiral of the Fleet in the Navy.
  • References

    Chief of the Air Staff (India) Wikipedia

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