First women fighter pilots by year-end: IAF chief

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New Delhi, Oct 5 (IANS) IAF’s first three women fighter pilots are set to be commissioned by the end of this year, and a second batch of three more women pilots are now being trained for the role, Indian Air Force chief B.S. Dhanoa said on Thursday.

“Last year we took a step forward by inducting the first batch of women pilots in the fighter stream. You will be glad to know that their performance has been at par with other pilots despite the strenuous and demanding nature of flying,” Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa said addressing the annual press conference ahead of Air Force Day on October 8.

“Consequently next batch of three women trainees has been selected for fighter stream in July 2017,” he said.

Dhanoa said the first three women fighter pilots – Bhawana Kanth, Mohana Singh and Avani Chaturvedi – are about to complete their training.

“On completion, these three women will be commissioned in fighter stream by the end of this year,” he said.

Asked if more women officers were to be commissioned as fighter pilots, he said it depends on how many women volunteer and how many of them clear the aptitude and other tests required for the role.

“As far as the women fighter pilots are concerned, they have volunteer for it. Secondly they have to make a cut in their aptitude.

“Flying is governed by laws of physics… It is like driving a car, it is gender neutral,” he said

Dhanoa also said that at present, it is an experimental project for five years, and after that the Defence Ministry will take a call on whether to continue it.

The Indian Air Force, in June last year, commissioned three women as fighter pilots.

Women form a very minor section in the armed forces, with the IAF having the highest number at 1,350 followed by the army with 1,300 and the navy with 450 women officers, according to official information.

The 1.3 million-strong armed forces have 59,400 officers.

–IANS

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