New Delhi: In seven months, the first batch of Indian women will begin to train as fighter pilots of the Indian Air Force in a move that breaks a glass ceiling that has existed for decades.
In another year following that, with the Ministry of Defence giving its nod for their induction in combat roles, the first Indian women combat pilots will be in the cockpits of frontline fighter jets of the Air Force in June 2017.
"Ministry of Defence Approves induction of women into the Fighter (Combat) Stream," ministry spokesperson Sitanshu Kar said in a tweet today and added that first women fighter pilots would be selected from the batch presently undergoing training at the Air Force Academy.
Those selected will begin to train as fighter pilots in seven months. After successful completion of training, first Indian women combat pilots will be in the cockpits of frontline fighter jets in June 2017.
Earlier this month, on 83rd Air Force Day, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha had announced that women would soon be inducted as fighter pilots, making IAF the first of the three services to have women in active front-line combat roles.
"This progressive step is in keeping with the aspirations of Indian women and is in line with contemporary trends in armed forces of developed nations," the ministry said in a statement today.
There are around 1,500 women in the Air Force, including 94 pilots and 14 navigators. At the moment, they serve as transport and helicopter pilots in the IAF but are not exposed to direct combat. With today's decision, they have now become eligible for induction in all branches and streams of the IAF.
In 2010, women in the Army and the Air Force were allowed full term service by the Delhi High Court, which commented that women officers "deserve better from the government."
Last month, women naval officers also scored this milestone, with the High Court saying it would "frown upon any endeavor to block progress of women."
Till five years ago, women military officers were entitled only to a limited service span.
The Ministry of Defence has also taken up a comprehensive review pertaining to induction of women in Armed Forces both in short service commission and permanent commission (SSC & PC) and once finalised more and more branches would be opened up for women.