Two more female pilots inducted into IAF, total at 5 now
The ongoing induction of female fighter pilots into the IAF is part of the NDA government’s decision to end the age-old gender-based combat exclusion policy. The move, adopted in October 2015, permits women to take up combat roles in any branch of the Indian military for the first time in the country’s history.india Updated: Dec 16, 2017 23:27 IST
The Indian Air Force (IAF) inducted two more female fighter pilots on Saturday, taking the total number of women in the combat wing to five.
Both Shivangi Singh and Pratibha (who prefers to be called by her first name) got their wings from naval staff chief Admiral Sunil Lanba during the combined graduation parade ceremony at the IAF Academy, Dundigal, on the outskirts of Hyderabad.
Three women – Bhawna Kanth, Avani Chaturvedi and Mohana Singh – were inducted into the IAF in December 2016. They are likely to be commissioned into the fighter wing by December 31, following which they can fly the Su-30 MKI aircraft.
The ongoing induction of female fighter pilots into the IAF is part of the NDA government’s decision to end the age-old gender-based combat exclusion policy. The move, adopted in October 2015, permits women to take up combat roles in any branch of the Indian military for the first time in the country’s history.
Both Shivangi and Pratibha termed the development as a “dream come true”, and expressed confidence about their ability to fly a Sukhoi or MiG aircraft just as well as any male pilot.
Shivangi, the daughter of businessman Kumareshwara Singh and teacher Seema Singh from Varanasi, described the passing-out parade as the proudest moment in her life. “Though there is no warlike situation right now, I am ready for any eventuality,” she said. “I would love to fight for my country, and my parents and I are ready to face the consequences of being in the forefront of any battle.”
Shivangi, a national-level javelin thrower and basket ball player, described herself as a born fighter. “Conventional jobs never interested me. I always loved challenges,” she said.
Pratibha, hailing from Rajgarh in Rajasthan, has patriotism running in her veins. The daughter of a soldier in the Indian army’s Maratha infantry, she always felt inspired by the IAF fly-past at the Republic Day parade in New Delhi.
She said female flight cadets were not accorded any special treatment at the IAF Academy, and had to slog just as hard as their male counterparts. “In my view, women cadets can be better at flying fighter aircraft,” Pratibha said confidently.
When asked about the road ahead for the two female pilots, Pratibha said: “We will get trained in Bidar on Hawks for a year, after which we will be sent to fly MIGs and Sukhois.”
Also among the 105 cadets that graduated from the 200 pilots and ground duty officers course at the Air Force Academy were Akshaita Jamwal and Renuka Sharma ( transport); Indrani Saha and Rutika R Desai (helicopters); Ankita Choudhary, Armeen Sahneela and Sukanya Rai (administration); SCA Kusum, WCA Naaz and Nidhi Dubey (logistics); and Jasleen Kaur and Pooja Sharma (meteorology).