Indian women to fly fighter jets

2015-10-09 22:11


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New Delhi - India is opening the way for women pilots to fly fighter jets in combat, its air force chief says, as one of the world's biggest military forces shakes off its reluctance to give greater responsibilities to women.

Several countries, from the United States to Israel, and even neighbour and arch-rival Pakistan, have women flying their fighter planes, but India's military has kept them out of that role, as well as frontline warships and ground combat.

In recent years, however, Indian courts have pushed the military to widen opportunities for women by giving them permanent commissions, for example, instead of limiting them to five-year terms.

Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha said he expected the first women pilots to be commissioned within the next two to three years, following an air force proposal to the defence ministry.

"We have women pilots flying transport aircraft and helicopters," he said earlier.

"We are now planning to induct them into the fighter meet the aspirations of the young women."

The step comes just a year after Raha turned down the possibility of putting women in that role, newspapers said, quoting him as having said women were unfit to fly fighter aircraft for long stretches.

India's army, with 1.1 million troops, ranks among the world's largest. Its air force is around 120 000 strong, with just 1 500 women, of whom 108 are transport and helicopter pilots.
Read more on:    india

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