The Indian Air Force will soon induct its first woman pilot in the Rafale squadron, reported India Today. The said pilot is currently undergoing ‘conversion training’ in Ambala to fly Rafale jets.
The woman pilot, who had earlier operated MiG-21 fighter jets, has been placed under the ‘full fighter training course’ and will join ‘active duties’ soon in the 17 Squadron. As per the report, the training regimen for both men and women pilots are identical. Every pilot, irrespective of gender, has to mandatorily undergo conversion training while switching from one fighter jet to another. Currently, there are 10 women fighter jet pilots in the Indian Air Force.
They have operated a range of fighter jets, including Su-30 MKI and MiG-29 UPG. The Centre had cleared women for flying fighter jets in 2016. “Women fighter pilots are inducted and deployed in IAF as per strategic needs and operational requirements within the laid down policy, which is reviewed from time to time,” Subhash Bhamre, India’s Minister of State for Defence was quoted as saying.
Rafale jets formally inducted in IAF
The Rafale jets were inducted into the Indian Air Force’s Golden Arrows Squadron on September 10. Reportedly, the IAF pilots had been training and flying sorties on Rafale jets over Ladakh, Leh as a part of operational readiness. While there are currently 5 ready-to-fly Rafale jets with the IAF, more fighter jets are scheduled to join the squadron by October and December.
The Rafale jets are India’s first major acquisition in 23 years after Sukhoi jets that were bought from Russia. Rafale can carry deadly weapons, including Scalp cruise missile and MBDA’s Meteor beyond air-to-air missile. Rafale jets are being inducted in the Indian Air Force amid increasing tension between India and China. The Ambala Air Base is considered to be the strategic location to provide air support on the border areas with China and Pakistan.