History! IAF Formally Opens Fighter Combat Flying To Women Pilots

In the trundling, unmoving traditions of armed forces, it isn't often that dramatic changes take place. Days after the Indian Air Force signalled that it would be opening its so far out-of-bounds fighter flying space to women pilots, the Ministry of Defence today has made it official:
Flash: Ministry of Defence Approves induction of women into the Fighter (Combat) Stream of #IAF. @manoharparrikar
— Sitanshu Kar (@SpokespersonMoD) October 24, 2015
Women pilots in the IAF currently only fly helicopters and transports. With the decision to induct women into the fighter (combat) stream of the IAF, a long-standing demand is visibly met. In its statement, the MoD says the decision has been taken "in keeping with the aspirations of Indian women and is in line with contemporary trends in armed forces of developed nations".

Interestingly, the statement specifies that India's first women fighter pilots will be selected from the batch currently undergoing flying training at the IAF academy. In effect, India gets its first fully trained and qualified women fighter pilots in June 2017 for full-scale operational deployment.

The fact that a selection is being made in the current batch clearly indicates that arrangements have been in the works for a while now, with the IAF and MoD working together to roll-out the decision ahead of today's formal announcement.

India's current flight training regimen begins with basic propeller training on Pilatus PC-7 Mk.IIs, then moves onto the HAL Kiran Mk.II intermediate trainer (the fleet will be retired next year) and finally advanced flight training on Hawk 132 jets (the current batch will begin lead-in fighter training in June next year, with formal squadron inductions a year later).

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