Saturday, December 19, 2009

India's "Night Witches"

From Thaindian News:
As India hotly debates whether to induct women fighter pilots, a look around the world reveals they have been so fearsome in some places that they came to be branded “nigh witches”. Pakistan and China already have them, but they have never faced direct combat.

“If women are trained in the same manner, then you cannot discriminate against them for just being women. China has inducted them, the US Air Force has women fighter pilots; then how can one say that India cannot have women fighter pilots?” Ranjana Kumari, chairperson of the Centre for Social Research, told IANS.

This month, Defence Minister A.K. Antony told parliament, “It has to be a conscious decision. Earlier we did not have women officers, but now we have women officers and we are thinking of expanding their roles.”

At present, the IAF has 748 women officers in all arms, barring the fighter stream.

This year Pakistan commissioned seven women fighter pilots, breaking into another male bastion. The women fly F-7s, a Chinese version of the Russian MiG-21.

China’s first batch of 16 women fighter pilots debuted during its National Day parade this year. They too are yet to see combat.

The erstwhile Soviet Union, which formed three regiments of women combat pilots who flew night missions and were so successful that the Germans feared them, calling them “Nachthexen” or night witches. Present-day Russia, however, has no woman fighter pilots.

The US Air Force allowed women to fly jets way back in 1993. According to information in the open domain, of the more than 14,000 pilots in the US Air Force, around 3,700 are fighter pilots. And of them, 70 are women. Many of the women fighter pilots of the US Air Force have flown bombing missions over Afghanistan after 2001.

The IAF has a good number of women military aviators flying helicopters and transport aircraft. But the issue of inducting women fighter pilots remains unresolved.

1 comment:

Charles Margerison said...

if a woman can fly to outer space and return, why not as I see at