In a first, all-women navy aircrew carries out maiden mission in Arabian Sea
NEW DELHI: In a first, an all-women navy aircrew carried out an independent maritime reconnaissance and surveillance mission in the north Arabian Sea on board a Dornier 228 aircraft on Wednesday, the Indian Navy announced on Thursday saying the women had “created history.”
The five women who were part of the feat are mission commander and captain Lieutenant Commander Aanchal Sharma, pilots Lieutenant Shivangi and Lieutenant Apurva Gite, tactical officer Lieutenant Pooja Panda and sensor officer Sub Lieutenant Pooja Shekhawat.
The development comes at a time when new doors have been opened for women in the defence services. The five women officers are based at the Naval Air Enclave in Porbandar.
The women officers underwent months of ground training and comprehensive mission briefings in the run-up to the “historical sortie,” the navy said in a statement.
“The Indian Navy has been a front-runner in driving transformation in the armed forces. Its pioneering women empowerment initiatives include induction of women pilots, selection of women air operations officers into the helicopter stream and conducting an all-women sailing circumnavigation expedition across the globe in 2018,” it stated.
The navy will also be the first among the three services to induct women in the personnel below officer rank (PBOR) cadre under the new Agnipath model.
“This first-of-its-kind military flying mission was, however, unique and is expected to pave the way for women officers in the aviation cadre to assume greater responsibility and aspire for more challenging roles,” the navy said, adding it showcased ‘Nari Shakti’ in its real spirit.
“It perhaps marks a unique achievement for the armed forces that a crew of only women officers undertook an independent operational mission in a multi-crew maritime surveillance aircraft.”
One of the turning points for women in the armed forces came in 2015 when the Indian Air Force decided to induct them into the fighter stream for the first time.
The navy is also giving them more opportunities to serve on board warships alongside their male counterparts. The army has allowed them to fly helicopters. But tanks and combat positions in infantry are still no-go zones for women.