Father-daughter duo Air Commodore Sanjay Sharma, a seasoned fighter pilot in the Indian Air Force (IAF), and Flying Officer Ananya Sharma, commissioned as a fighter pilot in December 2021, created history in the annals of the Indian Air Force by flying as part of the same fighter formation. On May 30, 2022, they flew in the same formation of Hawk-132 Advanced Jet Trainers (AJT) at Air Force Station, Bidar.
“Flying Officer Sharma is currently undergoing her training before she graduates onto faster and more superior fighter aircraft of the IAF. There has not been any previous instance in the IAF, where a father and his daughter were part of the same fighter formation for a mission,” an IAF officer said. “It was the mission where Air Cmde Sanjay and Fg Offr Ananya were more than just father and daughter. They were comrades, who had full faith in each other as fellow wingmen would,” the officer noted.
Air Commodore Sanjay Sharma was commissioned in the fighter stream of the IAF in 1989 and has had an extensive experience of fighter operations, having commanded a Mig-21 Sqn as well as a frontline fighter station.
Talking of the bond and bonhomie a fighter pilot has with one’s wingman, aptly depicted in the Hollywood superhit ‘Top Gun’, the officer said as young Ananya was growing up, she watched her father, a fighter pilot, nurture this very bond with his fellow squadron pilots.
Having virtually grown up in the IAF, there was absolutely no other profession that she could imagine being a part of, he elaborated, stating that as the first women fighter pilots of the IAF entered service in 2016, Ananya saw that her lifelong dream could now take off.
Having completed her B.Tech in Electronics and Communication, she was selected for training for the flying branch of IAF and was commissioned as a fighter pilot in December 2021.
The fighter stream of the IAF was opened for women in 2016, with the induction of the first batch of three women pilots. In 2020, a woman fighter pilot joined the No. 17 Golden Arrows squadron operating the IAF’s newest fighter jet, Rafales.