In a first, a woman fighter pilot will be a crew member flying the newly-inducted multirole aircraft Rafale jets. A pilot, whose name has not been disclosed by the Indian Air Force, has been selected under the Ambala-based Golden Arrows squadron that is operating the Rafale jets. Before this, the pilot in question was flying the MiG-21 fighters.

As reported by NDTV, an official source conveyed the information and said that the pilot is currently undergoing a training process and her name has not been revealed. “She was chosen to fly Rafale jets following a stringent selection process. She is undergoing training now,” he said.

Women Fighter Pilots In Indian Airforce

In 2015, the defence ministry opened the path for inducting women in Indian Air force as fighter pilots. In July of the same year, three women flying officers were commissioned as India’s first women fighter pilot squadron. One of them was Avani Chaturvedi who became the first woman fighter pilot to fly an aircraft alone. She flew the MiG-21 Bison on February 19, 2018. The other two were Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh. Bihar’s Bhawana Kanth became the second woman fighter pilot to fly a fighter aircraft solo. She also flew the MiG-21 “Bison” from Ambala Air Force Station at around 2 pm on March 16, 2018. Today, IAF has a total of 10 women fighter pilots and 18 navigators. And the total number of women officers serving in Indian Air force at the present is as high as 1,875. There is expectation that the Rafale pilot will be one of these and given Chaturvedi’s MiG experience, she could be the one. However there is no confirmation on this yet.

Why It Is Historic

French-designed Rafale jets are known for their air-superiority and precision in strikes. India had signed an inter-governmental contract with Russia of inducting 36 Rafale jets from the country. Of these ten Rafale jets have been delivered to India till now. Four years after the contract was finalised, the first batch of five Rafale jets arrived on July 29 earlier this year and the next five arrived on September 10, 2020. The induction of Rafale jets is historic because it is the nation’s major acquisition in Indian Airforce. It was 23 years ago that a new aircraft was imported in India which was the Sukhoi jets.

India’s Defence Minister, Rajnath Singh said last week, “Women fighter pilots are inducted and deployed in IAF as per strategic needs and operational requirements within the laid down policy, which is reviewed from time to time.”

 

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