New Delhi, May 6 (IANS) Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar on Friday said a decision on inducting women on permanent commission as fighter pilots in the Indian Air Force will be taken in a year’s time.
The minister also admitted that there was a shortage of pilots, but added that the figure has come down to 164 as on February 1, 2016. He added that there were enough pilots to meet operational requirements.
Parrikar informed the Lok Sabha that three women officers have been selected for Stage-II training for fighter pilot.
He said the approval at present is for taking the women on as Short Service Commission officers in the fighter stream, on an experimental basis for a period of five years.
Asked about the decision on granting them permanent commission, the minister said a decision will be taken “soon” and added that it may be taken in “one year”.
On the shortage of pilots, the minister said: “Overall shortage of pilots in IAF has been reduced to 164 as on 1.2.2016.”
He added that the shortage of pilots is likely to be “made good” in the next two years at the current induction rate.
“The available strength of pilots in IAF is sufficient to meet the current operational requirements,” he said.
The minister added: “IAF follows a gender neutral policy for recruitment of pilots. All opportunities that are available to join the IAF are extended to both men and women candidates”.