The aviation arm of the Indian Navy will double its aircraft fleet in the coming decade to nearly 500, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Sunil Lanba said here today. “We have a naval air wing, which has 238 aircraft at the moment. It has a combination of fighters, helicopters and maritime patrol aircraft, both- long range and short range. And we have a plan in place…in a decade’s time this Naval air wing will grow to close to 500 aircraft of different types,” Lanba said at a press conference. Lanba reviewed the Combined Graduation Parade at Air Force Academy here. Replying to a query on the issue of Sabi Giri, an Indian Navy sailor, who was discharged from service for undergoing a sex change surgery, the naval chief said the force cannot take her into direct employment, but is willing to accept her if she comes through any agency as a contract staff.
Defending the termination of the sailor’s employment, Lanba said the Navy is a gender-neutral service but Giri’s actions violated the rules. “Specifically to the issue of Giri, he was inducted as male in the Navy. And there is no provision in the Navy or in the rules and regulation where you can go and do what he has gone and done. That’s why he has been dismissed from the service for violating the rules and regulations. “We told the court that we cannot do that (take her into employment). And we have told the court that if a private party is willing to employ her, come as a contract worker in the Navy (as an employee of the private party, not as Navy’s direct employee),” he explained. “We are a gender-neutral service. We make no distinctions based on gender. We induct both men and women. They both have rigorous training and same rules and regulations are followed,” he added.
The Navy chief said the defence wing is committed to the government’s ‘Make in India’ programme and currently as many as 34 ships and submarines are under construction in Indian shipyards. Meanwhile, Air Force Academy said, in a statement, that 105 flight cadets passed out today as Flying Officers, including 15 women officers. The officers include two fighter pilots, it said.