Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha on Thursday announced that women will be inducted as fighter pilots in the Indian Air Force soon.
"Women pilots in the IAF currently fly helicopters and transport aircraft. We are now planning to induct them into the fighter jet stream to meet the aspirations of young women all over the country," he said during his address at the 83rd Air Force Day celebrations.
The Indian Air Force currently has 1,300 women, out of which, 94 are transport pilots and 14 are navigators. They (women) work in several areas such as administration, logistics, met department, navigation, education and aeronautical engineering, according to the Business Standard.
The move will enable the IAF overcome the shortage of officers in the fighter aircraft stream, the daily added.
Till now, the three services - Army, Navy and Air Force - have not been receptive to the idea of deploying women in combat operations.
The announcement has been received well by women defence personnel.
"It's an excellent move for women's empowerment, but in reality, flying a fighter plane is a complex process. Men and women have different physiological requirements, and fighter jets operate across the border, " Wing Commander Ashit Patel (Retd.), who flew fighter jets for 22 years before taking voluntary retirnment from the Indian Air Force, told IBTimes India.
"As of now, lady officers in IAF only fly transport aircraft. It's a catch 22 situation actually. So a thought has to be given on those lines as well," she added.
A lady officer in the Army, who did not wish to be named, said: "It's a great step forward, and has been welcomed by all lady officers who are part of the defence services. It will still take time for them to start the training though. So let us see what happens in the future."