NEW DELHI: Five woman officers of the Indian Naval Air Squadron (INAS 314) made history on Wednesday by completing the first all-women independent maritime reconnaissance and surveillance mission in the North Arabian Sea onboard a Dornier 228 aircraft.
INAS-314 is based at Naval Air Enclave, Porbandar. The Navy called the mission unique and expects it to pave the way for women officers in the aviation cadre to assume greater responsibility in more challenging roles.
“It perhaps marks a unique achievement for the Armed Forces that a crew of only women officers undertook an independent operational mission in a multi-crew maritime surveillance aircraft,” said the Indian Navy.
The aircraft was captained by Lieutenant Commander Aanchal Sharma, who had pilots, Lt Shivangi and Lt Apurva Gite, and Tactical and Sensor Officers, Lt Pooja Panda and Sub Lt. Pooja Shekhawat in her team.
The women officers before taking the final surveillance sorties received months of ground training and comprehensive mission briefings.
The Navy was the first service in 2009 to have allowed women to join as Navigators when Sub Lieutenants Ambica Hooda of Haryana and Seema Rani Sharma of Uttar Pradesh were awarded their ‘wing’ at the passing out parade.
The job of the navigator is also that of a combatant because the fixed-wing aircraft can be used for combat purposes as the maritime patrol aircraft is also capable of firing.
Indian Navy’s women empowerment initiatives include induction of women pilots, selection of women air operations officers into the helicopter stream and conducting an all-women sailing circumnavigation expedition across the globe in 2018.
Porbandar-based INAS-314 is a frontline naval air squadron and operates state-of-the-art Dornier 228 maritime reconnaissance aircraft. The squadron is commanded by Cdr SK Goyal, a qualified navigation instructor.
Months of training for women officers
The aircraft was captained by Lieutenant Commander Aanchal Sharma, who had pilots, Lt Shivangi and Lt Apurva Gite, and Tactical and Sensor Officers, Lt Pooja Panda and Sub Lt.
The women officers before taking the final surveillance sorties received months of ground training.