First Three Female Fighter Pilots of Indian Air Force Touch The Sky With Glory

NationalDefence Bureau,

New Delhi, 15 June 2016

The first batch of women Flight Cadets undergoing training for commissioning in Fighter Stream of Flying Branch will be passing out after successful completion of training. Combined Graduation Parade Spring Term -2016 for the flying cadets is scheduled to be held on 18 June 2016 at Air Force Academy, Hyderabad. Raksha Mantri Manohar Parrikar, who took the bold decision of allowing women into fighter stream will be the chief guest. These young women getting wings now can fly at and above the speed of sound.

The three women Flying Cadets, Avani Chaturvedi, Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh are on the verge of creating history in India for becoming the first female fighter pilots. Women are serving in Indian Air Force since 1991 and also flying transport aircrafts and helicopters. But this is for the first time that they are passing out in the fighter stream of Flying Branch. These three young women have undergone the mandatory 55 hours of flying on Stage I trainer, the Pilatus PC 7 basic trainer; then Stage II training on the Kiran Mark II; and finally graduated to the Advanced Jet Trainers (AJT) for fighter flying training.

These female fighter pilots have endured the 5 G + gravitational pull the body experiences while flying. Subsequently they will have to undergo 9 G+ pull during the final combat flight training. 

The entry of women fighter pilots in Indian Air Force is experimental in the beginning. These daredevil female fighter pilots would carry out missions in the benign environment as they fly combat air patrols (CAPs) and protect Indian skies from hostile elements contrary to their male counterpart who can fly over enemy territory. 

Earlier the Chief of Air Staff, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha on 83rd Anniversary of Indian Air Force declared that the women will be allowed in the fighter stream. The Ministry of Defence has finally approved the induction of women into the Fighter (Combat) stream of the IAF. It was a major policy decision given the Indian Society structure. Prime Minister Modi is understood to have been a driving force behind this historic decision and Defence Minister Parrikar was quick to execute the decision empoweing women in India. 

Presently, the Indian Army is inducting women into the Signals, Engineers, Army Aviation (Air Traffic Control), Army Air Defence, Electronics & Mechanical Engineers, Army Service Corps, Army Ordinance Corps, Intelligence Corps, Army Education Corps and Judge Advocate Generals Branches/Cadres. The Indian Navy is inducting women in the Judge Advocate Generals, Logistics, Observer, Air Traffic Controller, Naval Constructor and Education branches/cadres. The IAF is presently inducting women in the Transport and Helicopter stream of the flying branch, Navigation, Aeronautical Engineering, Administration, Logistics, Accounts, Education and Meteorology branches. 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. 

The Ministry of Defence has also taken up a comprehensive review pertaining to induction of women in Armed Forces, both in short service commission and permanent commission (SSC & PC) and once finalised more and more branches would be opened up for induction of women to give them the space which they deserve in the Armed Forces of the country. 

There are currently 1500 women serving in the IAF, including 94 pilots and 14 navigators. For becomming a fighter pilot a girl should be graduate. They are not eligible to join India Air force (IAF) after 12th and also Girls are also not eligible to appear for the NDA exam. After Graduation, the frmale candidates can apply for the AFCAT (Airfroce Common Admission Test) exam to Become Pilot. Generally , the exam includes 3 Branches. 1) Technical Branch, 2) Flying Branch, and 3) Ground duty Branch. For Flying branch, age should be between 19-23 years only. Now, the female candidates can choose Fighter Stream under Flying Branch if they qualify. 

These Flying Cadets may take another 2-3 years before they could actually be fully operational Fighter Pilots.

Watch the first female fighter pilots video URL:

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