Indian Navy to commission its first women navigators

Indian Navy to commission its first women navigators


Sub Lieutenants Seema Rani Sarma and Ambica Hooda, who will be inducted on November 20 as the Navy's first airborne tacticians, after their standardisation test at Kochi Naval Base on Wednesday. PTI

That honour goes to Sub Lieutenants Ambica Hooda of Haryana and Seema Rani Sharma of Uttar Pradesh who will henceforth fly as navigators on the Indian Navy's multi-role Dornier aircraft that are used for transportation and aerial surveillance.

"In the navy the job of a navigator is also that of a combatant as, unlike in the air force, all our fixed wing aircraft can be used for combat purposes. Our Dornier aircraft are also capable of firing," a navy spokesperson said, requesting anonymity.
"This is for the first time that women are being commissioned as navigators in the Indian Navy.
It is a proud moment as both of them have completed their training with flying colours," the spokesperson added.

The navigator’s job is challenging. Apart from keeping track of the aircraft’s position at all times, the navigator's responsibilities include planning the journey, advising the pilot of the estimated timing to destinations while en route and ensuring that weather hazards are avoided.
Hooda and Sharma, both 22-years old, completed a 16 month course at the Naval Academy at Mandovi in Goa and other professional schools of the Indian Navy before landing up at the Observer School at INS Garuda here. The navy terms its navigators as observers.
Speaking to a TV channel, Hooda said the training was difficult initially but she  managed.
Sharma said the training was totally professional and she is happy that she will be performing tasks that were hitherto a male preserve.

Earlier this year, the Indian Air Force (IAF) had commissioned Flying Officer Kavita Barala as its first woman navigator. However, she will be flying on non-combatant transport aircraft.
The issue of inducting women into the combatant arms of the military has been generating considerable heat of late. The IAF vice chief, Air Marshal P.K. Barbora had created a storm earlier this week when he said, perhaps in jest, that the force could in the foreseeable future take in women as fighter pilots if they committed not to have children.
Two years ago, Defence Minister A.K. Antony had asked the three service chiefs to examine the question of inducting women in the combat arms. They said it was not feasible at the moment for a variety of reasons.

Women currently can hold permanent commissions only in the Armed Forces Medical Services, where they can serve up to a maximum age of 58 years if they rise to three-star rank. Otherwise, women can only hold short service commissions that enables them to serve a maximum of 14 years in the support arms of the three services. 

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