Three more women fighter pilots to join IAF

Three more women fighter pilots to join IAF
Indian Air Force will have three more women fighter pilots, who are set to join the service in December 2017.
The trio of Rashi Raina, Shivangi Singh and Pratibha are currently undergoing the second phase of their training at an IAF flying establishment at Hikimpet, on the completion of which they would be commissioned, sources told DH.
Post-commissioning the last phase of their flight training would begin in Bidar in north Karnataka.
They join the force in June 2017 after two previous rounds of searches by the IAF in 2016 to find out more women pilots for fighter flying remained futile.
Rashi, Shivangi and Pratibha learn their basic flying with Pilatus PC-7 aircraft at the Air Force Academy, Dundigal after which they went to Hakimpet for the intermediate training with Kiran Mark-II aircraft.
The final part of the training would happen with Hawk advanced jet trainer early next year.
The commissioning of the three new girls is likely to happen weeks after the first batch of three IAF women pilots are set to create history to become part of IAF fighter squadrons following successful completion of the three phases of their training.
The last part of their advanced training took place at Bidar and Kalaikunda. Their training schedule was delayed by nearly three months.
The trio of Bhawna Kanth, Avani Chaturvedi and Mohana Singh graduated from the IAF academy in Dundigal in December 2016 and subsequently proceeded to specialised fighter training.
“Their training is now complete. They are likely to be commissioned by December 31, 2017. Most likely they will fly the Su-30 MKI,” said a source.
Bhawna, Avani and Mohana volunteered for the fighter stream after the NDA government ended a gender-based combat exclusion policy in October 2015. For the first time, women were permitted in a combat role in any branches of the military in India.
IAF inducted women as pilots way back in 1991 but limited the opportunity only to transport aircraft and helicopter streams. The doors of the fighter flying branch were closed for decades before the government decided to open it.
Prior to the government decision, former IAF chief Arup Raha stated that women were not fit for the fighter stream as they were not strong enough.
Several years ago, an IAF vice chief 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.
The Navy and Army are yet to induct a woman in a combat role.
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