For the first time in Indian military history, women will be permitted to take up combat positions in the Indian Air Force. “We are now planning to induct them into the fighter stream to meet the aspirations of young women of India,” Air Chief Marshal Raha announced on the IAF’s 83 anniversary. If the Air Force’s plans come to fruition, it will also mark the first time women have filled combat positions in any branch of the Indian armed forces. To date, women have been allowed to fly transport aircraft and helicopters but could not serve as fighter pilots, reportedly due to fears that they would be tortured and raped if they were shot down during combat. And just last year, Raha asserted that women “are by nature not physically suited for flying fighters for long hours, especially when they are pregnant or have other health problems.” It’s not entirely clear why the Air Force has changed its tune, but it may have something to do with the fact that a small group of women soldiers have served with distinction in the armed forces for the past decade. Women pilots have also proved their mettle by flying helicopters and transport aircraft during high-risk rescue missions.
Read more at The Times of India.