Home india-news In a first, IAF woman fighter pilot to be part of joint air exercise | Latest News India

In a first, IAF woman fighter pilot to be part of joint air exercise | Latest News India

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In a first, IAF woman fighter pilot to be part of joint air exercise | Latest News India

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Squadron leader Avani Chaturvedi, the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) first female fighter pilot, is set to take part in a maiden air exercise ‘Veer Guardian-2023’, which will be held at the Hyakuri air base in Japan from January 12 to 26 to bolster air defence cooperation between the two sides, officials familiar with the matter said on Saturday.

Avani’s participation in the air drills marks the debut of a ‘woman fighter pilot’ of the IAF in a joint international exercise, said one of the officials cited above, asking not to be named. The IAF contingent taking part in the air exercise with Japan consists of 139 personnel, including a woman medical officer, said a second official, who also asked not to be named.

Also Read: Who is Avani Chaturvedi — 1st IAF woman pilot to be part of wargames abroad

Chaturvedi was part of the first batch of three women fighter pilots commissioned into IAF in 2016, a year after the air force, in a landmark move, decided to induct women in the fighter stream. She is qualified in the MiG-21 Bison and the Sukhoi-30 fighter jets.

The Indian contingent will leave for Japan on Sunday.

“The Indian contingent will include four Su-30 MKI, two C-17 heavy-lift aircraft and one IL-78 refueller aircraft, while the Japan Air Self Defence Force (JASDF) will be participating with four F-2 and four F-15 aircraft,” IAF said in a statement on Saturday.

It was during the second 2+2 meeting of defence and foreign ministers in Tokyo in September 2022 that India and Japan unveiled plans for their first air force exercise as New Delhi and backed Tokyo’s efforts to reinforce its defence capabilities over the next five years, reflecting the growing security cooperation between the two sides.

At the 2+2 meeting, both countries agreed to step up bilateral defence cooperation and engage in more military exercises, including holding the first joint fighter jet drills, the IAF said.

“This exercise will thus be another step towards deepening strategic ties and defence cooperation between the two countries,” IAF said.

“The inaugural exercise will include the conduct of various aerial combat drills between the two air forces. They will undertake multi-domain air combat missions in a complex environment and will exchange best practices. Experts from both sides will also hold discussions to share their expertise on varied operational aspects,” the IAF added.

The armed forces have come a long way since they began inducting women as short-service commission officers in the early 1990s.

Also Read: IAF successfully test fires BrahMos air launched missile’s extended version

Following a gender-neutral approach, the three services now offer women officers a raft of opportunities that have given them new hard-earned identities, empowered them and helped bridge the gender gap significantly in a field that was traditionally male-dominated.

Earlier this week, the Indian Army for the first time deployed a woman officer, Captain Shiva Chouhan, at Siachen, the world’s highest and coldest battleground.

On Friday, the Army deployed its largest contingent of 27 women peacekeepers in Sudan’s disputed region of Abyei, where they will provide relief and assistance to women and children, and perform security-related tasks in a challenging mission as part of the United Nations Interim Security Force (UNISFA).

IAF and Indian Navy have allowed women officers to join their special forces units– the Garud Commando Force and Marine Commandos, respectively, to promote gender equality within their ranks, provided they meet the selection criteria.

Women are being assigned central roles on a par with their male counterparts– they are flying fighter planes, serving on board warships, being inducted in the personnel below officer (PBOR) cadre, eligible for permanent commission, and also undergoing training at the National Defence Academy.


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