New Delhi: As the world celebrates International Women's Day today, Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha announced that the IAF will get its first batch of female fighter pilots on June 18th this year.
"As of now three women trainees have volunteered to join the fighter stream. They are under the second phase of their training. Once they complete their training and are at par with their male colleagues and the passing out parade is scheduled on June 18th," Raha said.
He claimed that all three trainees should get commissioned on that day and become the first women officers in the fighter stream.
Raha added that subsequently they will go to the advanced jet training, and later proceed to the regular squads.
"I must thank the Defence Minister for having approved IAF's proposal to induct women as fighter pilots and very soon on 18th June this year, the Indian Air Force will get its first woman fighter pilot," Raha said at a seminar on women in uniform in the Army Medical Corps (AMC).
He stated that it was the AMC which first provided the opportunity to women to serve in the defence. Now there have been many options for women to prove their calibre.
Last year, in March Raha had said that women are physically not suited to fly fighter planes as it is a very challenging job and women by nature are not physically suited for flying fighter planes for long hours, especially when they are pregnant or have other health problem.
Later he stepped back and changed his statement saying that there is no doubt that women could become fighter pilots.
IAF currently has women in seven areas of administration, logistics, meteorology, navigation, education, aeronautical engineering, mechanical and electrical and accounts.
Currently, there are about 1500 women on its rolls of which 94 are pilots and 14 navigators in air force.