Defence ministry nod for women as IAF fighter pilots

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The defence ministry has approved an Indian Air Force proposal to induct women as fighter pilots, and the first batch would be commissioned in the IAF in June 2016, an official said.

“The ministry of defence approves induction of women into the fighter (combat) stream,” defence ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar tweeted on Saturday.

“The first women pilots in the fighter stream of IAF will be selected from the current batch at the AF Academy,” he said in another tweet.

The commissioned pilots would undergo advanced training for a year and enter fighter (jets) cockpits by June 2017, the defence ministry said.

“After successful completion of ab initio training, they would be commissioned in the fighter stream in June 2016,” the statement said.

“Thereafter, they would undergo advanced training for one year and would enter a fighter cockpit by June 2017.”

The IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, had announced on Air Force Day on 8 October that women would be inducted as fighter pilots that would make it the first of the three armed forces to induct women in combat roles.

An official statement called it a “progressive step” and said the performance of women pilots is “praiseworthy”.

“This progressive step is in keeping with the aspirations of Indian women and is in line with contemporary trends in the armed forces of developed nations. Since their induction into the transport and helicopter streams of the IAF, their performance has been praiseworthy and on a par with their male counterparts. Induction women into the fighter stream would provide them with equal opportunity to prove their mettle in combat roles as well,” the statement said.

Presently, the army inducts women into Signals, Engineers, Army Aviation (Air Traffic Control), Army Air Defence, Electronics and Mechanical Engineers, Army Service Corps, Army Ordinance Corps, Intelligence Corps, Army Education Corps and the Judge Advocate General branches.

The Indian Navy inducts women in the Judge Advocate General, Logistics, Observer, Air Traffic Controller, Naval Constructor and Education branches/cadres.

The IAF inducts women in Transport and Helicopter stream of the flying branch, Navigation, Aeronautical Engineering, Administration, Logistics, Accounts, Education and Meteorology branches.

With this decision on induction of women in fighter stream, women have become eligible for induction in all branches and streams of the IAF.

The statement said the defence ministry had taken up a comprehensive review pertaining to induction of women in the armed forces, both in short service commission and permanent commission, and once finalised more and more branches would be opened up for induction of women to give them the space they deserve in the armed forces.

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