From a Navy warship to possibly flying the Rafale – women officers take the lead in India’s defense

PRO Defence Kochi
  • Indian Navy’s Sub Lt Kumudini and Sub Lt Riti Singh are set to become the first women officers to be deployed on a frontline warship as crew members.
  • In a first, a women fighter pilot is all set to enter an all-made Rafale squadron of the Indian Air Force in Ambala, according to India Today.
  • Armed forces, in general, have a very low proportion of women personnel.
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Women officers in the Indian Navy and Indian Air Force are finally taking the lead. For years now, women officers in the Indian armed forces have been in very small numbers.

But the glass ceiling is slowly being broken. According to Indian Navy, four women officers, today, passed the ‘Observe Course” and are set to join their duties.

Indian Navy’s Sub Lt Kumudini and Sub Lt Riti Singh are the first women officers to be deployed on a frontline warship as crew members. Both the naval officers will work as airborne tacticians. Meanwhile, Sub Lt. Afnan Sheikh and Sub Lt. Kreeshma R. will be operating fixed wing aircraft of the Navy.

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Sub Lt Kumudini and Sub Lt Riti studied engineering and joined the Indian Navy in 2019. They successfully passed Indian Navy’s ‘ Observe Course’ at Southern Naval Command in Kochi on September 21.

All the four women officers participated in the batch of 21 Navy and Coast Guard personnel.

This comes as a landmark moment for Indian Navy, which got its first woman pilot, Lieutenant Shivani, just nine months ago.

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Women officers are rising from across the seas to fly higher in the skies too. According to reports, a female pilot could soon be operating a Rafale.

A woman fighter pilot could fly the Rafale
In a first, a woman fighter pilot is all set to be a part of the Rafale squadron of the Indian Air Force in Ambala, according to India Today.

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The women officer, whose name has not been disclosed due to security reasons, is one of the ten female-fighter pilots currently under training. She will begin actively participating in duties along with the 17 Squadron soon. Indian Air Force formally inducted five Rafale fighter jets to the fleet of IAF’s 17 Squadron, the “Golden Arrows” at a glittering ceremony in Ambala air base.

The pilot has already undergone a full fighter training course and already knows hot to operate MiG-21 fighters. In India, IAF’s 10 women pilots have operated on a variety of aircraft including 30 MKI and MiG-29 UPG. Just four years ago, Flt Lt Avani Chaturvedi, Flt Lt Bhawanna Kanth and Flt Lt Mohana Singh became the first women fighter pilots in the country.

This may come as an achievement, however, India still has a long way to go.

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Armed forces, in general, have a very low proportion of women personnel. The Air Force has the highest share of women officers in India at 13.9%. Whereas, there are only 6% female officers in Indian Navy. The Indian Army has an even lower proportion of women at only 3.8%.

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