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IAF mulling to induct women as combat cadre

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NewsGram Staff Writer

New Delhi:   Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, chief of Indian Air Force, on Thursday that said that soon there would be female cadres working as fighter pilots in the Indian Air Force, making it the first of three defence services to include women in a combat role.
“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 of India,” ACM Raha said at the 83rd Air Force Day parade at Hindon air base, New Delhi.

Statements from some highly placed sources said that Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar will meet the three service chiefs, ACM Raha, army chief General Dalbir Singh and the navy chief Admiral RK Dhowan, next week to discuss the issue.

Women pilots meanwhile welcomed the move. “We feel proud and thankful that chief has made this announcement. It gives us a feeling of parity in the force,” Squadron Leader Tina Mathew said.

“However, men and women are treated equally in the air force… we might be in different roles and may not be crossing over the territory but if need arise we will do whatever is in our nation’s interest,” she said.

The air force chief said it will take at least one year to start the process, and around three years before women would be flying fighters.

“The air force has the largest number of women in the three services. We have more than 1,300 women officers,” said ACM Raha, adding, “The air force has a different environment. We operate from bases, so women can have good opportunity to fly fighters.”

“This is a progressive step. We want to progress… Many air forces have women fighter pilots,” he said.

He, however, added, “Women pilots may have problems in term of physical fitness but it can be overcome.”

Interestingly, on May 12, 2014, ACM Raha had said that women were not suited for flying fighters.

“As far as flying fighter planes is concerned, it’s a very challenging job. Women are by nature not physically suited for flying fighters for long hours, especially when they are pregnant or have other health problems,” he had told reporters in Kanpur.

Earlier this year, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar also ruled out combat role for women.

Perhaps because of this, Raha came up with a rider on Thursday, saying talks were on with the government on the issue and presently the proposal is with defence ministry.

“We want it to happen as soon as possible. We are talking with defence ministry and presently the case is with the ministry. I am sure it will be approved,” he said.

“I hope in one year we can see women being inducted as fighter pilots, but it will take time for the training. It will take at least three years to make it operational,” he said.

The Indian armed forces have so far shied away from inducting women in combat roles. Neighbor Pakistan already has at least five woman fighter pilots.

Raha, however, said women fighter pilots might not necessarily be sent on cross-border combat missions in case of hostilities.

“Women fighter pilots need not necessarily get involved in combat across border. There are many tasks within the country,” said the air chief, adding, “If the need arises, they maybe sent.”

The IAF chief said that presently there are over 1,300 women officers, and 110 women pilots who fly transport aircraft and helicopters.

ACM Raha’s announcement comes after repeated denial by many of his predecessors as well as the political leadership against assigning women combat roles in the armed forces.

Women form a very minor section in the armed forces, with the IAF having the highest number at 1,350 followed by the army with 1,300 and the navy with 350 women officers, according to official information.

The 1.3 million-strong armed forces have 59,400 officers.

The US, Russian and Turkish air forces, among others permit women in combat roles.

Women were first inducted in the Military Nursing Service in 1927 and in the medical officers’ cadre in 1943. They were enabled to join the armed forces in 1992 on short service commissions.

Women SSCOs are eligible for consideration for grant of permanent commission in specified branches in terms of Government Policy letters dated September 26, 2008 and November 11, 2011.

In a written reply in parliament in July, Parrikar had said that so far, 340 Women SSCOs have been granted permanent commission in the armed forces.

(With inputs from IANS)

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7 killed, after Mi-17 V5 an IAF Chopper Crashed in Arunachal

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IAF chopper Mi-17 v5
IAF chopper Mi-17 V5, at Yelhanka, Air Force Station. Wikimedia

Tawang, October 6:  Seven Indian Air Force personnel were killed after a Mi-17 V5, IAF Chopper Crashed in Arunachal Pradesh on Friday.

Tawang district Superintendent of Police Manoj Kumar Meena said the IAF Chopper Crashed around 6.30 a.m. killing all the seven people on board.

The chopper was on a routine Air Maintenance Mission, Meena quoted a Defence officer as saying.

The crash site is located at some four-to-five hours drive from Tawang. “It is a forested area,” Meena said adding that the bodies are being brought to the helipad near Tawang.

“We are told that there were no civilians and all were defence personnel,” he said.

Earlier in July an Indian Air Force chopper engaged in a flood rescue mission crashed near Papum Pare district in the hill state killing four persons including three IAF crew and one India Reserve Battalion (IRB) personnel.

The frequently changing weather condition in Arunachal Pradesh makes flying of choppers difficult in the area and there have been several incidents of crashes in the hill state in the past.

The then Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, Dorjee Khandu, and four others also died in an IAF Chopper Crashed in the hill state in 2011. (IANS)

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India has ‘Plan B’, ready for any challenge from China, says Indian Air Force Chief B S Dhanoa

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ACM Dhanoa
Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa.

New Delhi, Oct 5: Indian Air Force Chief, Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa on Thursday said India is prepared to counter any threat from China and was also ready to face a two-front war.

Addressing the annual press conference of the IAF ahead of Air Force Day, the Indian Air Force Chief said they have a ‘Plan B’ to cater for the shortage of strength if there is a situation of war on two fronts.

“We need a strength of 42 squadrons to carry out full spectrum operations, but it doesn’t mean we can’t fight a two-front scenario. There is a Plan B,” he said when asked about being prepared for a two-front war.

He also said the possibility of a two-front war in the current geopolitical scenario is low.

He said “our capability is adequate” to counter any threat from the Eastern side — China.

The Indian Air Force Chief also said more than assets, the question was what China can and cannot do operating from Tibet against India.

He also said that Chinese troops are still stationed in the Chumbi valley, of which Doklam is a part, and hoped that they return soon.

Dhanoa said: “We are not in physical face-off but in Chumbi valley their troops are still deployed.”

“Hope they will withdraw in future after their exercises are over,” the IAF chief said.

He also said that there was no face-off in the air during the over 70 days long standoff and there were no air violations.

“I take this opportunity to assure the nation of our sacred resolve in defending the sovereignty of our skies,” he added.(IANS)

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IAF trainer aircraft crashes in Telangana

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HAL Intermediate jet trainer
IAF kiran. wikimedia

New Delhi, Sep 28: IAF’s intermediate trainer aircraft- Kiran, crashed in Telangana on Thursday morning, but the pilot and another person on board ejected out safely.

The aircraft got airborne from Hakimpet Air Force base on Thursday morning for a routine training sortie and crashed around 11.45 a.m.

The aircraft was being flown by a trainee pilot.

IAF sources added that a Court of Inquiry has been ordered to look into the cause of the accident.

According to police, the aircraft caught fire and was gutted after the crash near Ankireddypalli village in Keesara ‘mandal’ (block) of Medchal district.

Minutes after taking off from Hakimpet Air Force Station, the aircraft developed some technical snag and crashed in the fields.

Eye-witnesses said they heard a huge thud and soon flames engulfed the aircraft.

The pilot and another person accompanying him ejected out with parachutes before the crash, police said.(IANS)