Women could be flying Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter jets before 2014, breaking through the last male bastion in the world’s fourth largest air force.
“I am 100 per cent sure that women will fly fighters in the next four to five years,” Fali Homi Major, Chief of Air Staff, told HT. “The air force is conducting studies on physiological aspects (of inducting women in the fighter stream).”
There are 750-odd women among 10,563 officers serving in the IAF. Women started serving the IAF in 1992. They are allowed to fly only transport aircraft and helicopters.’
The IAF may have to tiptoe its way around issues such as marriage and pregnancy to give them fighter flying rights. It could consider taking a leaf out of the Turkish Air Force’s book.
“F-16 women pilots in Turkey are utilised for
training rookie male fighter pilots,” said Major, who retires on May 31, when he turns 62.
Women pilots in the US Air Force have flown combat missions over Afghanistan and Iraq. Pakistan got its first batch of women pilots three years ago.