Women IAF officers welcome combat role

New Delhi, Oct 8 (IANS) Women pilots of the Indian Air Force on Thursday welcomed the announcement that they will soon be flying fighter planes, saying they have walked shoulder to shoulder with the men in the forces so far.

“We have been walking shoulder to shoulder with men. The chief has expressed faith on us. We thank him for this faith,” Flying Officer Kirti Bawa said. “The women will fulfill all responsibility that is put on us.”

Squadron Leader Tina Mathew said women can do equally well in the tough training a fighter pilot undergoes.

“We feel proud and thankful that the chief has made this announcement. It gives us a feeling of parity in the force. Women can do the fighter pilot training equally well,” she said.

“However, men and women are treated equally in the Air Force. We might be in different roles and may not be crossing over the territory but if need arises, we will do whatever is in our nation’s interest,” she said.

Breaking another glass ceiling, Indian Air Force chief, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha on Thursday said women would soon be inducted as fighter pilots, making the IAF the first of the three services to have women in a combat role.

The air force chief said it will take at least a year to start the process, and around three years before women would be flying fighters.

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