With the globe marking International Women’s Day today, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha announced that the nation will see 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 told ANI here.
Asserting that all the 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, Indian Air Force will get its first woman fighter pilot,” Raha said at a seminar on women in uniform in the Army Medical Corps here.
He asserted that it was the AMC who first provided the opportunity to women to serve in the defence after which, the floodgates have opened for women to prove their mettle.
However in March last year, Raha had said that women are physically not suited to fly fighter planes. “As far as flying fighter planes is concerned, it is a very challenging job. Women are by nature not physically suited for flying fighter planes for long hours, especially when they are pregnant or have other health problems,” he had said.
Later he changed his stand saying that he had “no doubt” that women could become fighter pilots.