In a landmark move, the government has approved the induction of women fighter pilots in the Indian Air Force on Saturday. This is the first time that women would participate in a combat role in India’s Armed Forces.
“Inducting women into the fighter stream would provide them with an equal opportunity to prove their mettle in combat roles as well…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,” the Ministry said.
The first women fighter pilots will be selected from the batch which is presently undergoing training at the Air Force Academy. After the successful completion of ab-initio training, women pilots would be commissioned in the fighter stream in June 2016. And only then they would undergo advanced training for one year and would enter a fighter cockpit in June 2017.
With this decision to open up induction of women in the fighter stream, women have become eligible for induction in all branches and streams of the IAF.
Until now, the IAF was inducting women only in the Transport and Helicopter stream of the flying branch, Navigation, Aeronautical Engineering, Administration, Logistics, Accounts, Education and Meteorology branches.
The Ministry of Defence has also taken up a comprehensive review with regard to the induction of women in the Armed Forces, both in short service commission and permanent commission. Once finalised, more branches will open up for induction of women to give them the space which they deserve in the Armed Forces of the country, the Ministry statement said.
As of now, the Air Force has about 1,500 women on its rolls of which 94 are pilots and 14 are navigators.
The move is said to be in sync with global trends and will help IAF overcome shortage of officers in the fighter aircraft stream.
It was Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar who had been batting for an increased role for women in the Armed Forces.
“It has to be done in a phase-wise manner. It won’t happen immediately,” Parrikar had said on October 12.
(With inputs from PTI)