Four gunmen who entered the Pathankot base in a hijacked car are dead along with two guards, officials said.
The base is on the main highway leading to Indian-administered Kashmir.
The incident comes days after the Indian and Pakistani leaders Narendra Modi and Nawaz Sharif met in Lahore to launch a surprise peace initiative.
The whole of India’s Punjab state has been placed on alert.
It is not yet clear who the attackers are but suspicion is already falling on Kashmiri militant groups based in Pakistan, BBC reported.
In August seven people were killed in a similar attack when gunmen stormed a police station in nearby Gurdaspur district.
The three attackers in Gurdaspur were killed after a 12-hour standoff with police.
Pathankot air force base is about 430km (270 miles) north of the Indian capital, Delhi and is on the road linking Indian-administered Kashmir with the rest of the country.
Indian-administered Kashmir has seen a long-running insurgency against rule from Delhi, and Kashmir has been a flashpoint in relations between Pakistan and India for nearly 70 years since independence.