It is Air Force Day today and in a first, IAF is planning combat role for women by inducting them as fighter aircraft pilots. IAF Chief Arup Raha, while addressing the air warriors as the air force celebrated its 83rd anniversary,
We have women pilots flying transport aircraft and helicopters. We are now planning to induct them into the fighter stream to meet the aspirations of young women in India. I have no doubt that women will be able to overcome any physical limitations to become fighter pilots.
NDTV reported that the proposal has been sent to the defence ministry, but the air chief said it was a matter of time. Within one year, women can enter the fighter stream within one year. Though it will take three years for them to be trained and taken on board as fighter pilots. As of now, there are around 1,500 women in the Air Force, including 94 pilots and 14 navigators.
It is interesting to note that in the past, the Air Force had refused to allow women in fighter squadrons because of fears of torture or rape if they were shot down in combat. The air chief said while women should ultimately be cleared to operate behind enemy lines, a start can be made by assigning them air defence missions over Indian skies.
If the Air Force does make a historic leap, it will be the first to have women in active front-line combat. We hope that this leap is taken soon! Jay Hind!