India’s first three women fighter pilots have been advised by the IAF to restrain from motherhood for the next four years so as not to adversely impact their ongoing training process. However, IAF sources clarified that the advisory is not legal binding and is to ensure that their training does not get affected.
The three women pilots will be commissioned into the fighter stream on June 18 this year after successful completion of the initial training. Thereafter, they would undergo advanced training for one year and would enter a fighter cockpit by June 2017.
“Continuous training is required for a minimum of five years for fighter pilots, men or women, to become combat ready. The three women are about to complete one year of training,” the sources said, adding that pregnancy means that the entire training schedule gets disturbed. “It is not just the cost but the time also that gets affected. Even young fighter pilots are advised not to think about marriage till a particular age,” they said.
Bhawana Kanth, Mohana Singh and Avani Chaturvedi are the trainees who qualified for the fighter stream after it was thrown open to women in October 2015. They will go to Bidar in Karnataka in June 2016 for their stage-III training for a year on Hawk advanced jet trainers, before they get to fly supersonic warplanes.
“They are not combat ready even when they finish their Hawk training. They do multiple flying on various fighter jets also before being declared combat ready,” sources said.
Six female cadets were competing to become fighter pilots after the government, in a landmark move, approved an IAF plan in October to induct them as fighter pilots. However, only three female trainees were selected for the fighter stream.