Meet the First Three Indian Female Combat Pilots

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Bhawana Kanth, Avani Chaturvedi, and Mohana Singh are creating history as they become India’s first three female combat pilots who are now ready to fly Sukhoi 30 jets, once they wrap up with their last leg of training in September. This is a significant milestone for the Indian military as it has permitted women into combat roles for the first time.

Last June, this trio was commissioned as flying officers in the IAF. These three got a break in October 2015 after the government finally ended a rigid gender-based combat exclusion policy. They were among the 40 flying officers who were trained at the Kalaikunda air force station.

Avani Chaturvedi is from Satna, Madhya Pradesh. She was inspired by her brother who is in the Army. Her dream was to conquer the skies and to fulfill it she joined the Flying Club in her college. Mohana Singh is from Jhunjhunu, Rajasthan. She boasts about her grandfather who was a Flight Gunner in the Aviation Research Centre and her father who presently serves in IAF. She is pumped to pursue the family legacy of working in the armed forces. Bhawana Kanth comes from Darbhanga Bihar and is a daughter of an Indian Oil Corporation Officer. Flying was her childhood dream and she stepped into the fighter stream after completing her Stage I training.

It was indeed a dream come true for the trio. They credit the constant support of family and undying motivation. And they trained similarly to the men, the challenges and rigorous training being the same. But they constantly give out their 100%.

After the successful completion of their training, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar commissioned the trio. He describes the trio’s induction as “red letter day”. He states that the Center strives to bring about “total gender parity” in the armed forces. Once they complete the Stage III at Bidar in adjoining Karnataka the following year, they will get to fly the fighter jets like the Sukhoi and Tejas.

The three will begin their advanced training on advanced jet trainer Hawks and will take another 145 hours on it to almost a year before they finally would get into the cockpit of a supersonic fighter jet.

(Photo Credit: SBS, NDTV, Todayonline)