Army Will Now Allow Women To Be Pilots, Army Chief Announces
Women will now be inducted as pilots in India’s Army Aviation Corps, the army chief announced yesterday, furthering the expansion of women’s opportunities within the armed services.
Until now, women were restricted to ground duties within the Army Aviation Corp. In the Indian Navy, women have been allowed to serve as pilots since 2019, and the Indian Air Force inducted its first woman fighter pilots in 2016.
“Last month, I had initiated a proposal that women officers can be recruited to Army Aviation. The next course, which will begin in July this year, will induct women for training purposes in flying branch, and after one year they will be able to join in operational duties,” Army Chief General Manoj Mukund Naravane said at a press conference.
Following this, the Indian Army will deploy the first batch of women helicopter pilots by 2022.
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The present development marks a steady shift in Army perspective and policy since December 2018, when then-Indian Army chief General Bipin Rawat said in an interview that 6-month maternity leaves, as well as the possibility of sexual harassment, were justifiable reasons to keep women away from the frontline.
While the Army is yet to offer frontline combat roles to women, women Army officers gained through Supreme Court ruling the opportunity for permanent commission last year, as well as for command positions (despite the Centre’s opposition to the latter, claiming male officers wouldn’t accept women’s authority).
Formed in November 1986, India’s Army Aviation Corps comprises helicopters that fly both in conflict and peace zones, and their choppers are often deployed for reconnaissance, observation, essential load drops, combat search-and-rescue, and evacuation of casualties or injured troops. In addition, they are called upon to perform humanitarian aid and disaster relief.