New Delhi (Sputnik): Flying Officer Avani Chaturvedi has become the first Indian woman fighter pilot to fly solo. The Indian Air Force (IAF) said that Chaturvedi flew a MiG-21 Bison in her first training solo sortie, in Jamnagar, Gujarat on Monday.
"My heartiest congratulations to Flying Officer Avani Chaturvedi for successfully clearing her first solo sortie on a MiG-21 'Bison' fighter. The IAF has always taken a lead in providing an equal platform to women officers. It's a red letter day for the country," Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa told the Times of India.
The IAF has given the MiG-21 Bison to the first three women fighter pilots, as it considers the aircraft best suited for sharpening the skills of new flyers, as they have more manual features compared to other, more sophisticated aircraft.
#TouchTheSkyWithGlory: Fg Offr Avani Chaturvedi became the first Indian Woman to fly a fighter aircraft solo, when on 19 Feb 18 she flew a MiG-21 Bison aircraft in her first solo flight. The photo attached has been taken after her solo sortie. pic.twitter.com/nHWe4sgSmi— Indian Air Force (@IAF_MCC) February 22, 2018
Avani Chaturvedi, Bhawana Kanth, and Mohana Singh comprise the first batch of women fighter pilots who were commissioned in 2016 into the IAF — previously considered a male bastion. The decision to let women assume combat roles was taken by the Indian government in October 2015. Meanwhile, combat roles in the Army are still not permitted for women, due to a combination of operational concerns and logistical constraints. The Indian Navy is also considering the idea of deploying women on warships.
The country's Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman resolved to end gender inequality in the armed forces when she took over the ministry last year.