Formation of a nonequilibriuin gas-discharge plasma in air under the action of radiation at a wavelength of 10.6 μ with a duration of 10-6 sec is considered. It is shown that the air discharge occurs under nonequilibrium conditions by formation of an autoionization complex with subsequent oscillatory excitation of molecules. The molecular distribution function over oscillatory degrees of freedom is found in the diffusion approximation. The electron temperature and concentration in the breakdown plasma are calculated with consideration of multistep ionization of molecules and dissociative recombination of charged particles. Results are compared with experiment.