Air Force To Induct 10% Females Under Agniveer Scheme, Says IAF Chief

Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari announced that the Indian Air Force (IAF) will induct 10 per cent of females under the Agniveer Scheme.

NEW DELHI | Updated: 04 October, 2022 6:47 pm IST
The force now has three fighter pilots – Bhawana Kanth, Avani Chaturvedi and Mohana Singh Jitarwal – in its ranks.

In a major decision, Air Chief Marshal Vivek Ram Chaudhari announced that the Indian Air Force (IAF) will induct 10 per cent of females under the Agniveer Scheme.

“We’re looking at the fleets where we can use them and grow as the time comes. We will accept them in the trade and fleet with an open mind,” ACM Chaudhari said on Tuesday.

The IAF has more than 1800 female officers, which includes 10 pilots and 18 navigators. In 1994, women joined the force as pilots in support of the likes of Gunjan Saxena and Sreevidya Rajan were among the first IAF pilots to fly in a combat zone during the Kargil War.

The IAF opened combat roles for women in 2015, training them to become fighter pilots. In 2019, Bhawana Kanth became the first woman fighter pilot to qualify to undertake a combat mission. The force now has three fighter pilots – Kanth, Avani Chaturvedi and Mohana Singh Jitarwal – in its ranks.

The IAF Chief also assured that India is prepared when it comes to handling a situation like the Russian-Ukraine conflict, with both countries being among the suppliers of hardware for the Indian armed forces.

“We are confident that with the domestic industries stepping up, we will be able to overcome any shortfalls in spares that we’ve been traditionally acquiring from Ukraine and Russia,” ACM Chaudhari said while highlighting the importance of the central government’s focus on atmanirbharta.

Meanwhile, talking about tri-services theaterisation, ACM Chaudhari said that the IAF is not against the plan. But he also added that the IAF wants to ensure that its doctrine is not compromised in any way by the proposed changes.

“We are not opposing any process of integration and any process of theatre commands. We have certain reservations in respect to the structures,” he said while responding to a question on the plan for creating theatre commands by integrating assets of the three services.

“We are fully supporting the integration process. It is only the methodology and the kinds of structures that need to be future-ready that we are insisting on,” he said. “Each service has a doctrine. The doctrinal aspects of the IAF should not be compromised in any way by the new structures.”

The theaterisation process will bring together the assets of the three services under theatre commands, which will be responsible for tackling security challenges in a particular region.

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