Jamnagar: Flying Officer Avani Chaturvedi scripted history on Thursday by becoming the first Indian woman fighter pilot to fly solo.
Chaturvedi flew a MiG-21 Bison in her first training solo sortie, in Jamnagar, Gujarat on Monday.
“It is a unique achievement for Indian Air Force and the country,” Air Commodore Prashant Dixit said.
It is pertinent to mention here that MiG-21 Bison has the highest landing and take-off speed in the world – 340 kmph.
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She is from Rewa district in Madhya Pradesh. She was declared as the first combat pilot along with two of her cohort, Mohana Singh, and Bhawana Kanth. The trio was inducted into the Indian Air Force fighter squadron on June 18, 2016. They were formally commissioned by then Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar.
Mohana Singh and Bhawana have also completed training to fly a fighter plane and will soon fly fighter planes. All three were given training in January.
The three women were commissioned as flying officers into the fighter stream after basic training in June 2016 on “an experimental basis” for five years initially.
Chaturvedi completed her training at Hyderabad Air Force Academy. She did her schooling from Deoland, a small town in Shahdol district of Madhya Pradesh. Completing her Bachelors in Technology from Banasthali University, Rajasthan in 2014, she passed the Indian Air Force exam.
Chaturvedi is inspired by her brother who is in the Army. She always wanted to conquer the skies and hence joined the Flying Club in her college.
Her father, Dinkar Chaturvedi, is an executive engineer in Water Resource Department of M.P. government and her mother is a home maker. Chaturvedi likes to play chess, table tennis and to do sketching, painting.
Chaturvedi’s achievement has put India on the list of the countries such as Britain, the United States, Israel, and Pakistan, where women are allowed to fly fighter jets.
It was in October 2015 that the Indian Government took the decision to open the fighter stream for women. Meanwhile, combat roles in the Army and the Navy are still off-limits for women, due to a combination of operational concerns and logistical constraints.
It was only in 1992 that the armed forces began recruiting women to streams, other than the medical stream.
Presently, women are recruited in Indian Army as officers through short service commission (SSC) on all India merit basis along with men candidates. Women officers are inducted in Army Service Corps, Army Ordnance Corps, Army Education Corps, Judge Advocate General Branch including Engineers, Signals, Intelligence and Electrical & Mechanical Engineering branches.
In addition, they are also commissioned in Medical Branch Army Medical Corps (AMC), Army Dental Corps (ADC) and Military Nursing Service (MNS). Further, women officers are eligible for grant of Permanent Commission in Judge Advocate General (JAG) Department and in Army Education Corps (AEC) of Army.
In Indian Navy, women officers are inducted through short service commission, in Logistics, Law, Observers, Air Traffic Control (ATC), Pilots (Maritime Reconnaissance Stream), Naval Armament Inspectorate cadre (NAIC), Naval Architecture and Education Branch.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) has pioneered the entry of women as officers in flying and ground duty.
In the IAF since 1993, women officers have been inducted in all branches and stream as Short Service Commissioned Officers except in the fighter stream. However, IAF has revised Short Service Commission scheme to induct women into the fighter stream on experimental basis for five years.
The IAF has already selected the next batch of three women trainee pilots for the fighter stream.