Shailesh Kumar, National Defence
Hindon Air Force Station, 08 October 2017
IAF’s first three female fighter pilots Avani Chaturvedi, Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh will fly MIG-21 Bison after their commissioning in Indian Air Force by the end of year 2017.
Speaking to media on the IAF Day 2017, Indian Air Force Chief, ACM BS Dhanoa at Hindon Air Force Station said, “The present consideration is to put them to MiG-21 Bison squadron. Our opinion is that it will sharpen their skills as the aircraft has more manual features than other sophisticated aircraft.”
Air Chief indicated that after honing their skills on MIG-21 Bison, three female fighter pilots can fly other fighter jets. At the moment three women fighter pilots are flying Hawk Advance Jet Trainer aircraft.
The three women fighter pilots of first batch were inducted into IAF in June this year. The second batch of three female fighter pilots was selected in July 2017 and is currently under training.
In his annual Press Conference on 5th October ACM Dhanoa said, “Last year we took a step forward by inducting the first batch of women pilots in the fighter stream. You will be glad to know that their performance has been at par with other pilots despite the strenuous and demanding nature of flying.”
“Consequently next batch of three women trainees has been selected for fighter stream in July 2017”, he added.
Air Chief earlier on 05th October said that inducted women in fighter pilot stream is an experimental project for five years, and after that the Defence Ministry will take a call on whether to continue it. He also said the number will depend on how many women volunteer and how many of them clear the aptitude and other tests required for the role.
“As far as the women fighter pilots are concerned, they have volunteer for it. Secondly they have to make a cut in their aptitude. Flying is governed by laws of physics… It is like driving a car, it is gender neutral,” Air Chief explained in his annual press conference.
ACM Dhanoa also commented on the cause of IAF chopper crash in Arunachal Pradesh attributing the crash to “tail rotor being flown off”. However, he refrained from commenting as what led to tail rotor being flown off. A court of inquiry in the accident is currently going on. On October 6, five of IAF and 2 Army bravehearts lost their lives in chopper crash while on a routine air maintenance sortie in forward area along China border.