– Abhay Saxena / firstname.lastname@example.org
New Delhi: Indian women pilots will soon be able to fly supersonic combat fighter planes. Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha signaled this on the occasion of 83rd anniversary of Indian Air Force (IAF) at Hindon airbase near New Delhi. Indicating a possibility of major changes in rigid combat exclusion policy for women in armed forces, Raha announced that women pilots will also be allowed to fly fighter planes. “We already have women pilots flying helicopters and transport planes. We are now planning to induct them into the fighter stream to meet the aspirations of young women of India,” he said.
This proposal of IAF shall soon be discussed with the defence minister Manohar Parrikar by the three chiefs of Services. Till now, all, including political leadership and military authorities, were opposed to deploying women in combat roles in order to avoid complications spurring up in the event of women being taken as prisoners of war and tortured during battle times. While women shall still be excluded from direct ground combat roles in army, there should not be much issue in adopting combat roles for the air force. “Women fighters need not necessarily go across the border. We have a lot of roles for fighter pilots within the country like air defence, training, etc,” said Raha.
With women pilots flying combat fighter planes, India shall join the league of countries like US, UK, Russia, Israel, Turkey and even, Pakistan, who have for long allowed women to fly combat aircrafts.