Meet India’s First Three Female Combat Pilots

Hello Defence Lovers, A combat pilot or fighter pilot is a military aviator trained to engage in air-to-air combat while in the cockpit of a fighter aircraft. Fighter pilots undergo specialized training in aerial warfare and dogfighting (close range aerial combat). A fighter pilot with at least five air-to-air kills becomes known as an ace.  India’s first female combat pilots are ready to fly Sukhoi 30 jets in September, when they wrap up their last leg of training. Women have been inducted as pilots in the world’s fourth-largest air force for over two decades, but have so far their role is only limited to non-combat activities such as flying transport aircraft and helicopters.But this trio will open the floodgates with the Army also getting ready to include women as jawans.

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  • Creating history, the first batch of three female pilots — Avani Chaturvedi, Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh were inducted in Indian Air Force fighter squadron in the last June.
  • The achievement of the three is a significant milestone for the Indian military, as this is the first time it has permitted women into combat roles.
  • The then defence minister Manohar Parrikar described the trio’s induction as a “red letter day” and said the Centre was working towards bringing about “total gender parity” in the armed forces.
  • The three, who got the break after government ended a rigid gender-based combat exclusion policy in October 2015, were among the 40 flying officers who were trained at the Kalaikunda air force station.
  • Ms. Avani from Satna in Madhya Pradesh was inspired by her brother who is in the Army and said she always wanted to conquer the skies and hence joined the Flying Club in her college.
  • Ms. Mohana Singh from Jhunjhunu in Rajasthan boasts of a grandfather who was a Flight Gunner in the Aviation Research Centre and father who is a Warrant Officer in the IAF and is all excited to continue the family legacy of working in the armed forces.
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  • “Joining the Indian Air Force for flying was a dream instilled by parents and grandparents,” says Ms. Mohana Singh, whose father is with the IAF and grandfather is still serving as a flight gunner in the Aviation Research Centre.
  • For Bhawana, whose father is an engineer at Indian Oil and mother a homemaker, flying “like a free bird” has been a childhood dream. This, she explained, inspired her to join the IAF. Getting the opportunity to opt for the fighter stream is the “best and biggest” thing that has happened to her, she said, adding that she wants to fight for the nation and make her parents proud.
  • Mohana recollected her experience when her training got her out of a tricky situation. On her first sector solo sortie, she was unable to distinguish between what she described were “stars in the dark sky above and clusters of light on the dark ground beneath”. It was her flight instructor’s words that remained with her: “Trust your instruments.” She was able to land safely.
Jai Hind

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