IAF not ready for women combat pilots: Major

New Delhi, June 26 (IANS) The Indian Air Force (IAF) is not ready for women combat pilots even though they have performed creditably on transport planes and helicopters, Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major has said.

“Neither the country nor the IAF is ready for women fighter pilots,” Major told NDTV in an interview broadcast Tuesday.

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He also spoke on a range of issues like the IAF’s depleting force levels, its global tender for new fighters, how it was slowly changing its Pakistan-centric focus and the need for an Aerospace Command.

The issue of women combatants has been engaging the armed forces for quite some time now as also the demand that women be granted permanent commissions against the short service commissions they now get.

Last year, then Indian Army vice chief, Lt. Gen S. Patabhiraman, had stirred a controversy with his remark that the force “could do without” women.

Women’s groups had vehemently protested, forcing Patabhiraman to retract.

Pranab Mukherjee, who was then the defence minister, had asked the Chiefs of Staff Committee to consider the issue of women combat pilots.

The committee submitted a report saying the armed forces were not ready to induct women combatants and nor could women be granted permanent commissions except in the Armed Forces Medical Services.

Women currently serve in the non-combat arms of the three services and the Coast Guard on a 10-year short service commission that can be extended for a maximum of 14 years.

Indo-Asian News Service