Hyderabad: Creating history, three women pilots of the Indian Air Force (IAF) -- Avani Chaturvedi, Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh -- in a first, were commissioned in the fighter stream of the flying branch on Saturday.
Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who was chief guest at the combined graduation ceremony at Air Force Academy, Dundigal on the city outskirts, termed the event as a "milestone" wherein for the first time three women pilots are commissioned in combat role.
"...It is a red letter day, it is a golden letter day...", he said.
Favouring total gender parity in armed forces, Parrikar, however, said, "there are technical and administrative difficulties which we are likely to face in certain areas, so, step by step we will see that this parity is achieved. Number will depend on how many we can accommodate depending on our infrastructure".
Expressing happiness, the three women pilots, who successfully completed pre-commissioning training by the Flight Cadets of various branches of IAF, said they are feeling "good and fortunate and consider themselves lucky."
The trio will go to Bidar in South Indian state of Karnataka for their stage-III training for a year on Hawk advanced jet trainers, before they get to fly supersonic warplanes. Six female cadets were competing to become fighter pilots after the government, in a landmark move, approved an IAF plan in October to induct them as fighter pilots. However, only three female trainees were selected for the fighter stream.
Parrikar, who reviewed the passing out parade, conferred 'President's Commission' on behalf the President to 130 Flight Cadets, including 22 women trainees, who were commissioned as Flying Officers.
As three women were inducted as into IAF as fighter pilots on Saturday, Prime Minister Narendra Modi hailed it as a "matter of immense pride and joy". "It is a matter of immense pride & joy to see the first batch of women fighter pilots being inducted in our Air Force. More power to them," Modi tweeted. He was commenting on the induction of three women -- Avani Chaturvedi, Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh -- as the first women fighter pilots of the Indian Air Force.