Here’s to the Indian Air Force for deciding to induct women fighter pilots into its combat force.
Times, they are changing and fast. From being only a male bastion to now welcoming women, the cockpit of the Indian Air Force’s fighter planes are a seat of great honour and big pride.
In a bold announcement the other day, the Indian Air Force Chief Arup Raha said that the IAF is now planning to induct women into the fighter aircraft stream. As the air force celebrated its 83rd anniversary in Uttar Pradesh, he said "We have women pilots flying transport aircraft and helicopters. We are now planning to induct them into the fighter stream to meet the aspirations of young women in India". The move to induct women into a combat arm is a first in the three services, which were earlier staying away from the idea of women being part of roles that demanded heavy physical endurance.
This announcement comes as a surprise in the light of the Chief’s statement last year, where he said women were physically not suited for such a role and could face problems while flying fighter planes. He said, "As far as flying fighter planes are concerned, it is a very challenging job. Women are by nature not physically suited for flying fighter planes for long hours, especially when they are pregnant or have other health problems."
While women in India have been part of the defence forces since the 1990s, they haven't been permitted to be in roles that have combat as part of the job. If the IAF implements its plan, India will become part of the league that has Pakistan, Israel, United Arab Emirates, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Norway and Switzerland and United Kingdom, among a few others, who have women in active combat roles in their country's air force.
Here’s to the IAF’s bold move of welcoming women into a role that puts them on the ‘same plane’ as the men.