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For the First Time in History, Indian Air Force Will Induct Women as Fighter Pilots

For the first time in the history of Indian defence forces, women will be allowed to take up combat positions as the defence ministry has approved the proposal of Indian Air Force (IAF) to induct women as fighter pilots.

The first women pilots will be selected from the current batch at the Air Force Academy.


Source: Wikimedia

After successful completion of their training, they will be commissioned to train as fighter pilots in June 2016. And a year from then, by June 2017, India will have its first group of women combat pilots ready to be in the cockpits of frontline fighter jets after undergoing an year-long advanced training.

Defence ministry spokesperson, Sitanshu Kar, tweeted the announcement on Saturday:

Earlier this month, on the 83rd Air Force Day celebrated on Oct. 8, the IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha had announced that women will be inducted as fighter pilots soon, thereby making air force the first of the three armed forces to allow women in combat roles.

“We have women pilots flying transport aircraft and helicopters. We are now planning to induct them into the fighter stream to meet the aspirations of young women in India,” he said.

Presently, the roles of women in the three forces look as follows:

  • Army: Inducts women into Signals, Army Air Defence, Engineers, Electronics and Mechanical Engineers, Army Aviation (Air Traffic Control), Army Service Corps, Intelligence Corps, Army Ordinance Corps, Army Education Corps and the Judge Advocate General branch.
  • Navy: Inducts women in the Judge Advocate General, Logistics, Observer, Air Traffic Controller, Naval Constructor and Education branches/cadres.
  • Air Force: Inducts women in Transport and Helicopter stream of the flying branch, Navigation, Aeronautical Engineering, Administration, Logistics, Accounts, Education and Meteorology branches.

With the induction of women in the fighter stream, they will also become eligible for induction in all other branches of IAF.

“This progressive step is in keeping with the aspirations of Indian women and is in line with contemporary trends in armed forces of developed nations…Inducting women into the fighter stream would provide them with an equal opportunity to prove their mettle in combat roles as well.” the ministry statement said.

Air Force has 1,500 women, of which 94 are pilots and 14 are navigators.

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