In a historic first, two women chopper pilots to operate from Navy warship

Sub-lieutenant Kumudini Tyagi and Sub-lieutenant Riti Singh became the first female airborne combatants of the Indian Navy to operate helicopters from the deck of warships. 

Published: 21st September 2020 03:18 PM  |   Last Updated: 21st September 2020 10:06 PM   |  A+A-

Naval officers

Sub-lieutenant Riti Singh and Sub-lieutenant Kumudini Tyagi (Photo | A Sanesh, EPS)

By Express News Service

KOCHI: Breaking the glass ceiling and paving the way for gender equality Sub-lieutenant Kumudini Tyagi and Sub-lieutenant Riti Singh became the first-ever women airborne combatants of the Indian Navy to operate helicopters from the deck of warships. 

Traditionally, the roles of women in the naval service were restricted to fixing wing aircraft. 

The two women officers passed out of the Navy's Observer Course, at a ceremony held at INS Garuda, the air station of the Southern Naval Command on Monday. The two women, who are engineering graduates in computer science, were commissioned into the Navy in 2018. 

They were among a group of 17 officers of the Indian Navy which included four women officers and three officers of the Indian Coast Guard who were awarded 'wings' on graduating as 'observers' 

Sub Lt. Singh, a native of Hyderabad, is the third generation officer from her family to serve in the armed forces. Her grandfather was in the Army and her father a former naval officer. "It is a dream come true moment as joining the Navy was a long-cherished dream for me," she said.


Sub Lt. Tyagi, from Ghaziabad, said she wanted to be inducted into the Navy in a combat role. ”The news about Lt Kiran Shekhawat, a woman officer who laid down her life in an accident involving a Naval aircraft in 2015 had motivated me to join the Navy. Navy personnel work on the land, air and water and I wanted to take up the challenging role,” he said.

Two other women officers, Sub Lt. Afnan Sheikh and Sub Lt. Kreeshma R., too passed out on Monday. They would operate the fixed-wing aircraft of the Navy. Southern Naval Command Chief Staff Officer (Training) Rear Admiral Antony George presented the ‘Award of Wings' to permanent and Short Service Commissioned officers who completed the Observer Course.

Rear Admiral Antony George NM, VSM, Chief Staff Officer (Training) presented the awards and coveted wings to the graduating officers. He also awarded the ‘Instructor Badge’ to six other officers who had successfully graduated as Qualified Navigation Instructors (QNI) on the occasion.

The officers were trained in air navigation, flying procedures, tactics employed in air warfare, anti-submarine warfare and exploitation of airborne avionic systems. These officers would serve on-board Maritime Reconnaissance and Anti-Submarine Warfare aircraft of the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard.

Lieutenant Hitesh Singh was awarded the Uttar Pradesh Trophy for the ‘First in the Overall Order of Merit’ while Lt Anuj Kumar was awarded the Eastern Naval Command Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief Trophy on being adjudged ‘Best in Flying’.


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