The Indian Navy announced on Monday that for the first time, two women officers will operate flying missions from warships. The Navy deploys women staffers in logistics and medical wings on-board fleet tankers, but it will be for the first time they will be onboard destroyers and frigates.
The two officers, Sub Lieutenant (SLt) Kumudini Tyagi and SLt Riti Singh, are “part of a group of 17 officers of the Indian Navy, including four women officers and three officers of the Indian Coast Guard (13 officers of Regular batch and 4 women officers of Short Service Commission batch)” who were awarded “wings” as observers on Monday at a ceremony in Kochi.
Announcing the decision, the Navy said in a statement: “In yet another first in the history of Indian naval aviation, two women officers have been selected to join as ‘Observers’ (Airborne Tacticians) in the helicopter stream” and “they would in effect, be the first set of women airborne combatants who would be operating from warships”.
So far, the entry of women officers was restricted to fixed-wing aircaft that took off and landed ashore, the Navy said.
On Monday, Rear Admiral Antony George NM, VSM, Chief Staff Officer (Training) presented the awards and coveted wings to the graduating officers.
The Chief Guest also awarded the ‘Instructor Badge’ to six other officers, (five from the Indian Navy including a woman and another from Indian Coast Guard) who had successfully graduated as Qualified Navigation Instructors (QNI) on the occasion.The statement quoted Rear Admiral saying: “The fact that it is a landmark occasion wherein, for the first time, women are going to be trained in helicopter operations, which would ultimately pave the way for the deployment of women in frontline warships of Indian Navy.” It added that officers of the 91st Regular course and the 22nd SSC Observer course were trained in air navigation, flying procedures, air warfare, anti-submarine warfare and exploitation of airborne avionic systems.
These officers will serve on-board Maritime Reconnaissance and Anti-Submarine Warfare aircraft of the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard. Last year, the Navy had appointed two women as pilots for its Dornier aircraft fleet. The crew of P-8I maritime patrol aircraft of the Navy too has women officers. Both operate from shore-based facilities. —(With PTI inputs)
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