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India gets its first women fighter pilots

Creating history, Avani Chaturvedi, Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh today became the first women fighter pilots to be formally commissioned by the Indian Air Force.

India gets its first women fighter pilots
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Avani Chaturvedi, Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh (Image, Twitter)

Hyderabad

Batting for gender parity in the armed forces, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who was chief guest at the combined graduation ceremony at Air Force Academy, Dundigal on the city outskirts, termed the event as a 'milestone' as it also the first time that women have been given a combat role.

"It is a golden letter day...," he said, asserting that "step-by-step", "total gender parity" will be achieved in the armed forces in the coming years.

"There are technical and administrative difficulties which we are likely to face in certain areas, so, step by step we will see that this parity is achieved. Number will depend on how many we can accommodate depending on our infrastructure," Parrikar said.

Expressing happiness, the three women pilots, who successfully completed pre-commissioning training by the Flight Cadets of various branches of IAF, said they consider themselves 'fortunate' and were excited to take on their duties.

The trio will go to Bidar in Karnataka for their stage-III training for a year on Hawk advanced jet trainers, before they get to fly supersonic warplanes.

Six female cadets were competing to become fighter pilots after the government, in a landmark move, approved an IAF plan in October to induct them as fighter pilots.

However, only three female trainees were selected for the fighter stream.

Parrikar, who reviewed the passing out parade, conferred 'President's Commission' on behalf the President to 130 Flight Cadets, including 22 women trainees, who were commissioned as Flying Officers.

It was also a proud moment for 93 young pilots and seven navigators who earned their coveted 'Wings and Brevets' along with nine officers of Navy and one officer of Coast guard on successful completion of their flying training.

Earlier, the defence minister gave away various awards to the Flying officers who had excelled in their training.

Flying Officer Adarsh Hooda from the Flying branch was awarded President's Plaque and the Chief of the Air Staff Sword of Honour for standing first in overall merit in Pilot Course.

Flying Officer Narendra Kushwaha and Flying Officer Sahil Yadav, were awarded President's Plaque for securing first place in overall merit in Navigation and Ground Duty branches, respectively.

Spectators were mesmerised by the breathtaking aerobatics of the skilled pilots of SU-30, 'Sarang' - the Helicopter Aerobatics Team and PC 7 MK-II of the IAF.

Sky divers of the 'Akash Ganga' team also enthralled the audience.

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