Army to induct women as pilots in aviation wing

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New Delhi, Jan 12 (PTI) In a major move, the Army has decided to induct women as pilots in its aviation wing and the first batch is likely to be admitted for training in July.

Addressing a press conference ahead of Army Day on January 15, Chief of Army Staff Gen MM Naravane said he had issued instruction a month ago to induct women in the flying branch of the Army.

As of now, women are allowed in air traffic control and ground duties in the Army aviation wing.

'The Adjutant General's branch, the Military Secretary branch and the Aviation Directorate have arrived at a consensus that women officers can be there in the flying branch for flying duties,' the Army Chief said.

'The next course will start in July and women officers will definitely be admitted into it for pilot training. After one tyear's training they will be able to join frontline operations units for flying duties,' he said.

In a historic move, the Army in 2019 began the process of inducting women in the military police.

The role of the military police includes policing cantonments and army establishments, preventing breach of rules and regulations by soldiers, maintaining movement of soldiers as well as logistics during peace and war and extending aid to civil police whenever required.

In 2018, flying officer Avani Chaturvedi of the Indian Air Force scripted history by becoming the first Indian woman to fly a fighter aircraft solo. She flew a MiG-21 bison in her first solo flight.

Chaturvedi was part of a three-member women team commissioned as flying officers in July 2016, less than a year after the government decided to open the fighter stream for women on an experimental basis.

At present, the IAF has 10 women fighter pilots and 18 women navigators. The total strength of women officers serving in the IAF is 1,875.

Last year, the Navy announced deploying its first batch of women pilots on the Dornier maritime aircraft.

Replying to a separate question on whether the government is conferring gallantry awards on Republic Day to 20 Indian Army personnel who were killed in Galwan Valley clash, he said names of those who have performed acts valour have been forwarded to the ministry for approval.

'It is not just for officers and jawans who were martyred in Galwan. Throughout the past year, there have been many gallant actions carried out by our men. Some of these actions have resulted casualties on our own side also. All these actions, citations have been received.

'They have been evaluated on merit and recommendations made for all those who have performed acts of gallantry and valour have been forwarded to the ministry for final approval,' he said.

Colonel B Santosh Babu and a number of other Indian Army personnel who were killed while valiantly fighting Chinese troops in Galwan Valley in eastern Ladakh on June 15 last year are expected to be conferred with gallantry awards on Republic Day.

Col Babu, the commanding officer of the 16 Bihar regiment, was among 20 Indian soldiers who laid down their lives in the fierce hand-to-hand combat on June 15 in Galwan Valley, an incident that marked the most serious military conflicts between the two sides in decades.

China is yet to disclose the number of its soldiers killed and injured in the clash though it officially admitted to have suffered casualties. According to an American intelligence report, the number of casualties on the Chinese side was 35 The Galwan Valley clash had escalated the border row eastern Ladakh and resulted in large deployment of troops and heavy weaponry by both the armies in the friction points. PTI MPB ZMN