By Ajit K DubeyTezpur (Assam) [India], September 27 (ANI): Amid the growing number of women pilots and ground crew in the Indian Air Force, females of the forces are operating fighter aircraft and choppers extensively in the eastern sector over Arunachal Pradesh and Assam.
During a forward air base visit, team ANI witnessed operations by the female fighter aircraft crew and chopper pilots flying the indigenously developed ALH Dhruv mark 3 choppers.
Indian Air Force officials in eastern command said the female pilots and ground crew officers are deployed across the country and operate in all types of terrain from the world's highest battlefield Siachen glacier sector to the easternmost landing ground in Vijaynagar in Arunachal Pradesh in support of troops and local population.
In interaction with ANI, India's first Weapon System Operator of the Su-30 MKI fighter jet fleet Flight Lieutenant Tejaswi said, "We have had brilliant women who have broken the glass ceiling and paved a way for us to follow our dreams to serve the country.
"It is no longer a unique experience to have women in the fighter aircraft fleet. Everyone including men and women works and trains equally hard. We are on equal footing. In the skies and on the base, we are all first and foremost air warriors first and everything else comes after that," she said.
The first time Indian Air Force allowed women in the fighter stream was when three females including Avni Chaturvedi and Bhawna Kanth were commissioned in the fighter stream. Later on, Kanth was the first one to fly a solo sortie in a MiG-21 while Shivangi Singh later became a pilot in the Rafale planes.
ALH Dhruv Mark 3 pilots Flight Lieutenants Ani Awasthi and A Nain regularly fly their ALH choppers over the Arunachal Pradesh sector over thick forests and close to the LAC.
These pilots are doing a great job and for us in the IAF, they are air warriors first who have to handle the machines well to perform the assigned tasks, an Eastern Command official said.
The Indian Air Force has more than 1300 female officers working in ground and air duties. The numbers are likely to go up further in view of the government policy to further promote 'stree Shakti' in the forces and the possibility of induction of women as airmen n the Agniveer scheme. (ANI)