On 8th October 2015, India celebrated 83rd Air Force Day. Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha made a historic announcement of planning to induce women pilots into combat zone. Defence Ministry has given affirmation to this proposal and stated the first women to pilot fighter planes will be from the current batch Air Force Academy.
Until 2010, women have had a small service span with the armed forces of maximum ten years. In the same year Delhi High Court had allowed women permanent commission in the Army and the Air Force. According to the experts, women were kept from entering the combat zone after speculating the physical needs of the job. Plus, the paranoia of torture to be encountered by the women if held by enemy was unconceivable.
Currently, there are around 1,500 women in the Air Force, including 94 pilots and 14 navigators. According to Arup Raha, women pilots are remarkably performing the duties and this is induced to meet the aspirations of young women of India. He said:
“I have no doubt that women will be able to overcome any physical limitations to become fighter pilots.”
Sitanshu Kar, the spokesperson of the Ministry of Defence released a press statement which said:
“The Ministry of Defence has approved the induction of women into the Fighter (Combat) stream of the IAF. This progressive step is in keeping with the aspirations of Indian women and is in line with contemporary trends in Armed Forces in developed nations.”
Col. Jeannie Leavitt is the U.S.’s first female fighter pilot in 1993. Countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada, Germany, the UAE, Israel, and even Pakistan already have women performing the combat roles. Pakistan’s first female fighter pilot Ayesha Farooq commanded in 2013.