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Years after Pakistan, India lets women fly fighter jets

NEW DELHI: India is opening the way for women pilots to fly fighter jets in combat, its air force chief said, as one of the world’s biggest military forces shakes off its reluctance to give greater responsibilities to women. Several countries, from the United States to Israel, and even neighbor and arch-rival Pakistan, have women...

SAMAA | - Posted: Oct 9, 2015 | Last Updated: 6 years ago
SAMAA |
Posted: Oct 9, 2015 | Last Updated: 6 years ago
Years after Pakistan, India lets women fly fighter jets

iaf-women-pilots

NEW DELHI: India is opening the way for women pilots to fly fighter jets in combat, its air force chief said, as one of the world’s biggest military forces shakes off its reluctance to give greater responsibilities to women.

Several countries, from the United States to Israel, and even neighbor and arch-rival Pakistan, have women flying their fighter planes, but India’s military has kept them out of that role, as well as frontline warships and ground combat.

In recent years, however, Indian courts have pushed the military to widen opportunities for women, by giving them permanent commissions, for example, instead of limiting them to five-year terms.

Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha said he expected the first women pilots to be commissioned within the next two to three years, following an air force proposal to the defense ministry.

“We have women pilots flying transport aircraft and helicopters,” he said at a parade on Thursday to mark the 83rd anniversary of the Indian Air Force.

 

Ayesha Farooq, 26, Pakistan's only female war-ready fighter pilot, gives the thumb-up sign from the cockpit of a Chinese-made F-7PG fighter jet at Mushaf base in Sargodha, north Pakistan June 6, 2013. Farooq, from Punjab province's historic city of Bahawalpur, is one of 19 women who have become pilots in the Pakistan Air Force over the last decade - there are five other female fighter pilots, but they have yet to take the final tests to qualify for combat. A growing number of women have joined Pakistan's defence forces in recent years as attitudes towards women change. Picture taken June 6, 2013.  REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra (PAKISTAN - Tags: MILITARY SOCIETY TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) - RTX10LK9

Ayesha Farooq, 26, Pakistan’s only female war-ready fighter pilot, gives the thumb-up sign from the cockpit of a Chinese-made F-7PG fighter jet at Mushaf base in Sargodha, north Pakistan June 6, 2013. Farooq, from Punjab province’s historic city of Bahawalpur, is one of 19 women who have become pilots in the Pakistan Air Force over the last decade – there are five other female fighter pilots, but they have yet to take the final tests to qualify for combat. A growing number of women have joined Pakistan’s defence forces in recent years as attitudes towards women change. Picture taken June 6, 2013. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

“We are now planning to induct them into the fighter stream, to meet the aspirations of the young women.”

The step comes just a year after Raha turned down the possibility of putting women in that role, newspapers said, quoting him as having said women were unfit to fly fighter aircraft for long stretches.

But the air force now faces a shortage of pilots, at the same time as it struggles to modernize its Soviet-era fleet. In April, a parliamentary defense panel urged the government to tackle the IAF’s problems.

“Our squadron strength is already short of what has been authorized, and moreover, insufficiency in the number of available pilots further deteriorates our operational capabilities,” it said in a report.

India’s army, with 1.1 million troops, ranks among the world’s largest. Its air force is around 120,000 strong, with just 1,500 women, of whom 108 are transport and helicopter pilots.  (Reuters)

 

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