Indian Air Force gets its first women fighter pilots

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The Indian Air Force (IAF) created history by inducting 3 women fighter pilots for first time. The first batch of three female pilots  Avani Chaturvedi, Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh were commissioned as the first women fighter pilots in the Indian Air Force in presence of Union Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar at a ceremony held at Air Force Academy, Dundigal, Hyderabad.

They have undergone rigorous training at the Hakempet base over the last six months. The cadets have undergone the mandatory 55 hours of flying on Stage I trainer - the Pilatus PC 7 basic trainer. The 3 women fighter pilots will get to fly fighter jets like Sukhoi and Tejas next year after completion of stage-III training at Bidar in Karnataka.

Meet the women fighter pilots

  1. Avani Chaturvedi: Hailing from Satna, Madhya Pradesh,  comes from a family of army officers. She was inspired by her brother who is also in the army.She always wanted to fly and joined the flying club of her college. She had completed her schooling from Adarsh School in Rewa and BTech in Computer Science (CS) from Banasthali University, Jaipur. 
  2. Bhawana Kanth: Hailing from Darbhanga in Bihar, she is the daughter of an officer in the Indian Oil Corporation. She had completed her schooling from Barauni Refinery DAV Public School and BE in Medical Electronics from BMS College of Engineering, Bengaluru. As a child, she always dreamt of flying planes. She opted for fighter stream after successfully completing her stage I training. 
  3. Mohana Singh: She hails from Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan. Her grandfather was a flight gunner in Aviation Research Centre and father is a warrant officer in the IAF. She had completed her schooling from Air Force School, New Delhi and in Electronics & Communication from Global Institute of Management and Emerging Technologies, Amritsar.

Background : Last October, the government decided to open the fighter stream for women on an experimental basis for five years. These three women fighter pilots were inducted in IAF after all of them cleared the first stage of training in the three stages process.

Now they have about 150 hours of flying. Now in the second stage, they will begin advanced training on advanced jet trainer Hawks at Bidar in Karnataka. It will add 145 hours of flying before they actually get into the cockpit of a supersonic fighter in the third stage.

Comment : The achievement of the three is a significant milestone for the Indian military, as this is the first time it has permitted women into combat roles but it should be noted that combat roles in the Army and the Navy are still off limits due to a combination of operational concerns and logistical constraints.

Countries that allow women in front-line combat positions

In Europe: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Lithuania, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Romania and Sweden.

Elsewhere: Australia, Canada and New Zealand in the Anglosphere; plus Eritrea, Israel, and North Korea.

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