IAF to get women fighter pilots soon

IAF to get women fighter pilots soon

Women's Day: Three trainees volunteered to join fighter stream

IAF to get women fighter pilots soon
India will get its first three women fighter pilots in June when the trio would be commissioned in the Indian Air Force after completing the first phase of the training. “Very soon, on June 18, the Air Force will get women fighter pilots.

As of now three women trainees have volunteered to join the fighter stream. They are under the second phase of their training. Once they complete their training, they are on a par with their male colleagues and the passing out parade is scheduled on June 18,” Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha said here on Tuesday.

The three IAF pilots, Bhawna Kanth, Avani Chaturvedi and Mohana Singh, would subsequently undergo another six months of training in the Hawk Advanced Jet Trainer before they start flying the fighter jets in regular missions like their male counterparts.

They graduated from the IAF academy in Dundigal in December and proceeded to specialised fighter training in the IAF establishment in Hakimpet in Andhra Pradesh.

After the government opened up the doors for women in the combat stream of the Air Force, Raha stated that the IAF envisaged appropriate roles for women fighter pilots in air defence and training and they need not necessarily fly across the border.

However, prior to the government decision, the IAF chief stated that women were not fit for the fighter streams as they were not strong enough. Several years ago, another top IAF officer ran into a controversy when he stated that women should not be made fighter pilots as the money spent on training them would be wasted once they are married and get pregnant.

“We inducted women as pilots in 1991, but on only helicopter and transport (planes). I must thank the defence minister for having approved the IAF's proposal to induct women as fighter pilots,” Raha said at a function here.

The Navy plans to permit women pilots flying the maritime surveillance aircraft where women are currently deployed as observer (navigator). In all the three services, women are employed in several administrative and combat-support roles.
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