The decision to grant permanent commission to women in the fighter stream of the Indian Air Force will be taken in one year, defence minister Manohar Parrikar said on Friday.
Responding to a series of supplementaries on induction of women as fighter pilots, he said three women candidates have been selected for ‘stage-II’ training as fighter pilots who would be ready by June-July.
He said as of now they have been inducted in short service on an experimental basis to ascertain the difficulties that could be faced and taken care of before they are inducted on a permanent basis.
Parrikar said the decision on granting them permanent commission will be taken “soon” and went on to add that it will be taken in “one year”.
In his written response, the Minister said both men and women pilots undergo same type of specialised jungle and snow survival training.
Rejecting concerns that women may be afraid of flying fighter jets, he said there will be a flood of applications and a time will come when women will outnumber men as fighter pilots in the IAF.
Responding to questions on shortage of pilots, he said in 2010, the flying branch was short of 550 pilots which has now come down to 164 as on February one.
He said out of the sanctioned strength of 4528 pilots, 164 is a small number and if the current trend continues, the flying branch will be able to wipe out the shortage in two years. The new gender neutral approach will help decrease the shortfall, Parrikar added.