Flying cadets Bhawana Kath, Avani Chatuvedi and Mohana Singh created history today after they were commissioned as the first women fighter pilots in the Indian Air Force. Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who reviewed the passing out parade at the Indian Air Force Academy in Dundigal, formally commissioned them along with flight cadets of various branches of the IAF.
The three flight cadets are all in their early 20s. Avani Chaturvedi belongs to Madhya Pradesh, Mohana Singh is from Rajasthan, while Bhawana Kanth hails from Bihar. With the Indian defence forces long opposing the induction of women in combat roles, these three women have ushered in a new chapter.
"I wanted to carry on the family legacy of serving the nation by being in defence and what better way than fighter-flying," said Mohana. "I dream of being a part of future combat missions, and fight for the nation when duty calls," she added.
The three women fighter pilots have cleared the first stage of training and have around 150 hours of flying. They will now get trained for six months on the Advanced Jet Fighter - the British-built Hawk. They will be be assigned fighters and their squadrons.
The woman fighters will be assigned as per requirements of the force and will not get preference, Air Chief Arup Raha had said earlier. President Pranab Mukherjee had announced in February 2016 that all military combat roles will be opened to women in the future.