The Ministry of Defence has decided to make the experimental scheme of inducting women pilots into the Indian Air Force (IAF) into a permanent scheme. The experimental scheme for inducting women pilots has been going on for the past six years. Defence Minister Rajnath Singh announced the new scheme on Tuesday, 2 February, calling it a testimony to the government’s commitment towards women empowerment.
He tweeted, “The MoD has decided to convert the Experimental Scheme for Induction of Women Fighter Pilots in the Indian Air Force into a permanent scheme. It is a testimony to the capability of India’s ‘Nari Shakti’ and our PM Shri @narendramodi ’s commitment towards women empowerment.”
Till now, 16 women fighter pilots have been commissioned in the Indian Air Force. The Defense Ministry had approved allowing women to join the Air Force as fighter pilots in 2015. But the scheme for ‘Induction of Women SSC officers in Fighter Stream of Flying Branch’ began in 2016 only.
Women fighter pilots came into the spotlight just last week, in the Republic Day Parade, when India’s first female pilot for the Rafale fighter aircraft – Flight Lieutenant Shivangi Singh, was seen standing on the Air Force’s tableau. She was the second-ever woman fighter pilot to be part of the Republic Day parade. The first was in 2021 when Flight Lieutenant Bhawna Kanth was a part of the Air Force’s tableau.
Last year women joining the armed forces had a major boost. With the help of the supreme court, women have been allowed to enter the National Defence Academy which supplies officers for all three of the forces. Nearly a third of the candidates who appeared for the National Defence Academy’s entrance test in November were women. The Supreme Court had also intervened in 2020 to push the Army to allow Permanent Commission to women in all non-combat streams.