Indian Air Force's Combat Women Pilots
Bangalore: Indian women are taking combat to a whole new level and have crossed another milestone. The Indian Air Force has pioneered in introducing women in the role of fighter pilots, as reported by Arun Dev for TOI . Previously women pilots only operated single – engine helicopters like Cheetah and Chetakh, which are used in non combat missions only. But now two women have been chosen to set foot in the field of air combat training.
Flight Lieutenant Alka Shukla and M P Shumathi trained at Yelahanka station are now flying twin engine Mi-8, a utility and medium – size assault helicopter. These pilots will continue their armament and special heli- operation training at their operational units. Alka, found the opportunity after she spent over three years in a Chetak helicopter unit in West Bengal, where she carried out casualty evacuation operations in Sikkim and Bhutan. When asked how she was given the news, she said “When I was at Bagdogra station, my senior told me that I have to go to Bangalore. Initially, it didn't click. By the time I realized the magnitude of the offer, I had all my colleagues congratulating me,” as reported by TOI.
Yes, the magnitude of the decision is immense, considering the fact that for the first time women are given such a high risk profile. The unlikely thought that even women can be the bombardiers, a role which men have been performing for all these years is now on the verge of change. The Indian Air force has added the two remarkable women to the state of art undertaking, unlike the Indian army who has no plans to engage women in combat in the near future.
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