IAF to get first batch of women fighter pilots in June

On June 18, India will in all likelihood get its first women fighter pilots.

Bhawna Kanth, Avani Chaturvedi and Mohana Singh are likely to create history as India’s first women fighter pilots if they put on the wings and are inducted into the IAF fighter stream. Who among the three, or all of them, make the final cut depends on them clearing the advanced stage training.

This was announced by the Chief of the Indian Air Force Air Chief Marshal (ACM) Arup Raha on Tuesday while speaking on the occasion of the International Women’s Day.

“I must thank the Defence Minister for having approved the IAF’s proposal to induct women as fighter pilots and very soon on June 18 this year, Indian Air Force will get its first woman fighter pilot,” Mr. Raha said addressing a seminar on the role of women in the Army’s Medical Corps.

The three women trainees have volunteered to join the fighter stream. “They are under the second phase of their training. Once they complete their training and are on par with their male colleagues and the passing out parade is scheduled on June 18,” ACM Raha added.

In October the Defence Ministry, in a much welcomed decision, had announced that women will for the first time be allowed in combat roles beginning with the Air Force. Soon the Navy followed suit saying that women pilots would be inducted except where staying overnight on board was involved.

However Minister of State for Defence Rao Inderjit Singh clarified in a written reply in the Parliament later that “government has accorded the approval to entry of women into the fighter stream of IAF on experimental basis for a period of five years.”

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar recently clarified that the induction of women in various combat roles would be done only in a “phased manner” as necessary facilities for accommodation and training need to be created.

While this is the case contrary to the efforts of the government to promote more women in defence services, the number of women officers joining the forces shows a steep drop in intake last year compared to the last three years, a government reply to the Parliament has revealed.

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Printable version | Oct 1, 2020 8:04:18 AM |

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