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In a first, woman pilot to join fighter crew of IAF’s Rafale fleet

She has been flying MiG-21 fighters and was selected for the Rafale fleet following an internal process, the sources said. At present total of 1,875 women officers are serving in the IAF of which 10

Published: 21st September 2020 03:27 PM  |   Last Updated: 21st September 2020 10:48 PM   |  A+A-

Rafale jets

Rafale jets (File Photo | Reuters)

Express News Service

NEW DELHI: The most modern and newest fighter squadron of the Indian Air force has included a woman fighter pilot to be part of the team which will raise the first full Rafale Fighters’ 17 Squadron at Ambala.

“The officer has begun her conversion training and was already operational on the MiG version of fighters.” told an air force officer.

Air force broke the glass ceiling by inducting three women officers Avani Chaturvedi, Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh into the fighter stream in July 2016.

In 2018, flying officer Avani Chaturvedi became the first Indian woman to fly a fighter aircraft solo by flying a MiG-21 bison in her first solo flight.

At present total of 1,875 women officers are serving in the IAF of which 10 are fighter pilots and 18 serve as the women navigators.

​ALSO READ | In a historic first, two women chopper pilots to operate from Navy warship

The first batch of Five French-made multirole Rafale fighter jets were inducted at Ambala air force base on September 10 into the Golden Arrows squadron. The squadron was resurrected on September 10 last year and was originally raised at the same airbase on October 1, 1951.

Meanwhile, in yet another first in the history of Indian naval aviation, two women officers, Sub Lieutenant (SLt) Kumudini Tyagi and SLt Riti Singh, were selected on Monday to join as “Observers” (Airborne Tacticians) in the helicopter stream.

It is a landmark occasion wherein for the first-time women are going to be trained in helicopter operations which would ultimately pave way for the deployment of women in frontline warships of Indian Navy. Earlier, entry of women was restricted to the fixed wing aircraft that took off and landed ashore.

These officers were part of a group of 17 officers, including four women officers and three officers of the Indian Coast Guard (13 officers of Regular batch and 04 woman officers of Short Service Commission batch) who were awarded “Wings” on graduating as “Observers” at a ceremony held on 21 Sep 20 at INS Garuda, Kochi.

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Responding to the queries of this newspaper Sub Lt Riti Singh highlighted the importance of occasion in her life saying, “This opens up new horizons for women officers in the Indian Navy. As Observers we will have Tactical and weapon control in our hands. We are really excited to be part of Indian Navy's history, which is being made today and look forward to front line operations.”

She added, this gives us an opportunity to be the eyes and ears of the fleet, to be able to lead from the front. It's no regular job each day is exciting and unique in its own ways.

As regards her feeling of ultimately serving onboard ships Sub Lt Riti Singh said, “We can't wait to be there. This is the ultimate opportunity, to be finally moving into front line roles of Naval Operations. What more can we ask from the Indian Navy.”

Women officers Surgeon Commander Vinita Tomar and Sub Lt Rajeshwari Kori served onboard INS Jyoti in 1997 in medical and logistics branch. Btu since then women serving onboard was discontinued.

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