Decision on women fighter pilots to be considered: President (Lead)

Pune, Nov 25 ( A decision on inducting women into the fighter stream will be taken after due consideration, President Pratibha Patil said Wednesday after her maiden sortie in an Indian Air Force (IAF) Sukhoi Su-30MKI combat jet.

The president, who is also the first woman supreme commander of the Indian armed forces, said that while she had confidence in the capability of women, the decision to allow women in combat would be taken by the three services after deliberation.

“The technical requirement and the qualification and the situation which one has to face are the issues which the IAF and the government will decide or consider. But let me tell you I have full faith in the ability of a woman,” Patil told reporters.

“Earlier the three forces did not have women. It was discussed and then they (women) were allowed. Now we have helicopter and transport pilots and women officers in all the three services. And now we are talking of bringing them into the fighter stream. The country has proactive thinking and women are also proactive. Let us see when a decision is taken,” said Patil.

“They (women officers) have the capability and capacity to perform. Whatever work they have performed up till now they have done excellently. I have no doubt about their capabilities,” asserted Patil.

IAF vice chief Air Marshal P.K. Barbora’s comment this month kicked up a storm after he said that it was not economically feasible to have women fighter pilots. Barbora went on to add that even in the future if women were allowed in the fighter stream there may be conditional terms with respect to pregnancy.

The IAF currently has 748 women in different streams, barring the fighter stream.