• Here’s why IAF should have women fighter pilots

    Air Marshal (Retd) Anil Chopra & a fighter pilot himself

    Serious participation of women in military combat goes back only 400 years. French Joan of Arc in 1431 and Rani Lakshmi Bai of Jhansi, 1858 are two famous women warriors. For various reasons, mostly men have been enrolled for war fighting. Women have traditionally been given support service roles. In World War II, 500,000 women had combat role in anti-aircraft units in Britain and Germany, and in front-line units in Russia.

    India set to allow female fighter pilots in the Air Force

    Women were first inducted into Indian Armed Forces in 1992 mostly in Short Service Commission (SSC). Today there are 1300 (3.4%) in the Army, 410 (3.9%) in the Navy and 1300 (13.5%) in the IAF. Compare this with Israel (33%), France (19%), USA (14.6%), Australia (13%), Canada (12%), Russia (10%), Britain (9%), Germany (7%), China (7.5%), and Pakistan (1%). [Feature image of Turkish Female Fighter Pilot]

    Today there are 1300 (3.4%) in the Army, 410 (3.9%) in the Navy and 1300 (13.5%) in the IAF

    Pakistan Air Force cleared women pilots in 2006 and the first four fighter pilots were commissioned in 2009. The US employed nearly 40,000 women in Iraq mostly in combat support tasks. Chinese Armed Forces, women serve mostly in military support roles. In 2009, China’s People’s Liberation Army Air Force cleared women fighter pilots. An Israeli Military report indicates that female combatants displayed higher levels of alertness, were more knowledgeable about the use of weapons and had better shooting abilities than men.

    female fighter pilot

    Pic by The Telegraph, UK

      If by strength is meant moral power, then woman is immeasurably man’s superior.

    All wings of Indian Armed Forces have cleared women in Legal and Education branch. Army permits in EME, Signals, Engineers, Ordnance, Intelligence and Service Corps. All branches of the Indian Navy except Submariners and Divers; and all branches in IAF except the Fighter stream were open to them. Air Chief Raha’s announced to clear fighter pilots in IAF is very welcome and a move with the times. Aero-medical issues specific to fighter flying have been studied and will evolve as we go along. IAF must induct and train around 10 fighter pilots initially. This can be reviewed after five years.

    She has greater intuition, is more self-sacrificing, and has greater power of endurance and greater courage.

    A practical upper cap in percentage of women, comparable to Western countries, could be put at around 12 percent. The same may be reviewed every 10 years.  The issue of Command of Combat units may also be visited in years ahead. The aim should be to find ways to induct women rather than create logic to deny them opportunities.  If by strength is meant moral power, then woman is immeasurably man’s superior. She has greater intuition, is more self-sacrificing, and has greater power of endurance and greater courage.

    UAE's first female fight pilot Mariam Al Mansouri: Pic by NYT

    UAE’s first female fight pilot Mariam Al Mansouri: Pic by NYT

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