The first batch of women fighter pilots, comprising three cadets, will be inducted in the Indian Air Force on June 18.
Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha said three women trainee officers have volunteered to be inducted in the combat role.
“We inducted women as pilots in 1991, but on only helicopter and transport (planes). I must thank the Defence Minister for having approved the IAF’s proposal to induct women as fighter pilots. Very soon…on June 18, the Air Force will get women fighter pilots.
Asserting that all the three trainees should get commissioned on that day and become the first women officers in the fighter stream, Raha added that subsequently they will go to the advanced jet training, and later proceed to the regular squads.
”I must thank the Defence Minister for having approved IAF’s proposal to induct women as fighter pilots and very soon on 18th June this year, Indian Air Force will get its first woman fighter pilot,” Raha said at a seminar on women in uniform in the Army Medical Corps here.
He asserted that it was the AMC who first provided the opportunity to women to serve in the defence after which, the floodgates have opened for women to prove their mettle.
However in March last year, Raha had said that women are physically not suited to fly fighter planes. “As far as flying fighter planes is concerned, it is a very challenging job. Women are by nature not physically suited for flying fighter planes for long hours, especially when they are pregnant or have other health problems,” he had said.
Later he changed his stand saying that he had no doubt that women could become fighter pilots.
He was speaking at a seminar on ‘Women in Armed Medical Corps’ organised to mark International Women’s Day here, which was also attended by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.
The Defence Ministry had cleared the proposal of inducting women as fighter pilots in October last year.
Parrikar also lauded Raha’s insistence to push forward the proposal to induct women as fighter pilots in the Indian Air Force. “Though I approved and support the proposal, it was he who was consistently pushing the file to the MoD (Ministry of Defence) level.