In order to promote the women candidates a better opportunity, the Indian Air Force (IAF) announced that the women candidates would be given a chance to be fighter pilots on an experimental basis for a period of five years. Thus, in 2016, Flying officers Avani Chaturvedi, Mohana Singh and Bhawana Kanth were commissioned as the first women fighter pilots in the IAF. But since then, the entire IAF is facing a different situation. As stated by an IAF official that after these three, no other women candidates have opted for fighter pilots.
Before getting commissioned into the IAF for different portfolios, the woman candidates have to get trained Air Force Academies. The trifurcation into the three streams — fighter, transport and helicopters — is made after the first six months of training.
Avani Chaturvedi, Mohana Singh and Bhawana Kanth were from the 197th flying course of the Air Force Academy (AFA) at Dundigal near Hyderabad. They were commissioned as fighter pilots but the none of the women candidates from the later courses opted the same.
As per an Indian Express report, the IAF officials stated that the 198th flying course has four women candidates among which one chose to be a transport pilot while three went for the helicopter stream. In the 199th flying course, there are three candidates and among them, one is getting trained for transport while rest of the two have chosen to be helicopters pilots. Same is with the 200th course which is only three months into training.
Now this situation has been putting the IAF officials in a fix. An official said,”We are trying our best to motivate and counsel them. But once the training is over, they are capable enough to judge themselves and take a considered call.”
While the AFA Dindigul officials said,”The choice depends on several factors like personal reasons, peer pressure or clauses in their terms of engagement.”
IAF started recruiting women pilots in 1994 and their roles were restricted to helicopters and transport aircraft. As per the clauses, a woman pilot can serve for 14 years and post-retirement, there are several opportunities for civilian employment for transport and helicopter pilots than there are for fighter pilots.