India commissions its first 3 female Air Force pilots
3 Indian women fighter pilots made history by being commissioned in the Indian Air Force. Bhawana Kanth, Avani Chaturvedi and Mohana Singh have almost 150 hours of flying and have cleared the first stage of training. The young flying officers will train for 6 months on the Advanced Jet Fighter - the British-built Hawk before being assigned fighters and their squadrons.
Women-officers have served in India's armed forces for 88 years. They were first inducted in the military nursing service in 1927 and as medical officers in 1943. It was only after 1992 that India started hiring female officers in other branches of the armed-forces. India now has more than 8,350 women military officers (including those from Armed Forces Medical Services and Military Nursing Services).
Women with a strength of around 1328, form 11% of Air Force; with 1436, form approximately 4% of Army; and with 413, form around 5.5% of the Navy. In total, women form 5.4% of the total defense forces (excluding personnel from medical services).
Women have been hired under short service commissions, for 10 years, with a possible four-year extension if they so choose. Apart from the armed forces medical services, Permanent Commission for women remains largely restricted to the army's legal and education corps, and their corresponding branches in Navy and IAF. As of 31 July 2015, 340 women officers were granted permanent commission in armed forces.
In March 2010, ruling in favour of a petition filed by several women officers, Delhi High Court said, "If male officers can be granted permanent commission, there is no reason why equally capable women officers can't." Contesting the High Court judgement, the Army in July 2010, filed an affidavit in the Supreme Court. The issue of granting permanent commission for women is now pending.
In the SC affidavit against permanent commission for women, citing the possibility of becoming prisoners of war, frontline trauma and combat hazards, Army argues that, "the combat role of woman officers must be excluded not only for the present but as a matter of policy for all times."
Captain Divya Ajith Kumar of the Corps of Army Air Defence led a contingent of 154 women officers and cadets during the Republic Day parade, where US President Barack Obama was present as the chief guest. While women officers have been participating in previous Republic Day parades, this was the first time that an all-women's contingent of the armed forces marched down Rajpath.
On the ocassion of 83rd Air Force Day, Air Chief Marshal Chief Arup Raha said that women pilots will soon fly fighter jets of the Indian Air Force. Women pilots so far have only been flying transport aircraft and helicopters. If they do make this historic leap, the Air-Force will be the first in Indian defence forces, to have women in active front-line combat.
Countries that allow women in front-line combat positions include Denmark, Estonia, France, Germany, Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Australia, Canada, New Zealand, Israel, and N.Korea. Countries that allow women in positions like fighter pilots include Pakistan, Serbia, South Africa, S.Korea, UK and US.
Defence Ministry approved the induction of women into fighter (combat) stream of the Indian Air Force. This came days after IAF Chief Arup Raha's announcement regarding induction of women. The first women pilots in the fighter stream would be selected from current batch at the Air Force Academy. After successful completion of training, they would be commissioned in the fighter stream in June 2016.
The government said that the resolution to permit women to pilot warplanes has been taken on a trial basis for 5 years. This has left the women pilots confused about whether they will be stripped off their fighter pilot status after 5 years and shifted to other branches. So far, 6 women stand a chance to be appointed as combat pilots and are under-training.
Speaking on the occasion of International Women's Day, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha said that India will soon have its first batch of woman fighter pilots on June 18 this year. He further informed the nation that currently 3 women trainees had enlisted to join the fighter stream. They were under the 2nd phase of their training and would pass out on 18 June.