Guwahati: In a historic first, get ready to see women tear the skies with Rafale fighter jets.
According to reports, a woman fighter pilot of the Indian Air Force (IAF) will soon join the newly-inducted Rafale fighter fleet as one of its crew flying the multi-role aircraft, official sources said today.
The woman pilot has been flying MiG-21 fighters and was selected to join the Ambala-based Golden Arrows squadron operating the Rafale jets, the officials said.
“She was chosen to fly Rafale jets following a stringent selection process. She is undergoing training now,” said a source.
In 2018, flying officer Avani Chaturvedi scripted history by becoming the first Indian woman to fly a fighter aircraft solo. She flew a MiG-21 bison in her first solo flight.
Ms. Chaturvedi was part of a three-member women team commissioned as flying officers in July 2016, less than a year after the government decided to open the fighter stream for women on an experimental basis. The other two women pilots were Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh.
At present, the IAF has 10 women fighter pilots and 18 women navigators. The total strength of women officers serving in the IAF is 1,875.
Ten Rafale jets have been delivered to India so far and five of them stayed back in France for imparting training to IAF pilots. The delivery of all 36 aircraft is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2021. The second batch of four to five Rafale jets is likely to arrive in India by November.
The Rafale jets, known for air-superiority and precision strikes, are India’s first major acquisition of fighter planes in 23 years after the Sukhoi jets were imported from Russia.