In yet another first in the history of Indian naval aviation, two women officers have been selected to join as “Observers” (Airborne Tacticians) in the helicopter stream. They would in effect, be the first set of women airborne combatants who would be operating from warships.
Earlier, the entry of women was restricted to the fixed-wing aircraft that took off and landed ashore. These officers, Sub Lieutenant SLt Kumudini Tyagi and SLt Riti Singh are a part of a group of 17 officers of the Indian Navy, including four women officers and three officers of the Indian Coast Guard (13 officers of Regular batch and 4 woman officers of Short Service Commission batch) who were awarded “Wings” on graduating as “Observers” at a ceremony held on September 21, 2020, at INS Garuda, Kochi.
Speaking on the occasion, Rear Admiral Antony George, Chief Staff Officer (Training), while complementing the graduating officers highlighted the fact that it is a landmark occasion wherein for the first-time women are going to be trained in helicopter operations which would ultimately pave way for the deployment of women in frontline warships of Indian Navy.
Trained For Battle
The officers of the 91st Regular course and 22nd SSC Observer course were trained in air navigation, flying procedures, tactics employed in air warfare, anti-submarine warfare, and exploitation of airborne avionic systems. These officers would serve on-board Maritime Reconnaissance and Anti-Submarine Warfare aircraft of the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard.
Though women officers (they are not recruited in lower ranks) are being inducted into the armed forces since the early-1990s, the number is just 1,653 in the Army, 1,875 in IAF, and 490 in the Navy in the 65,000-strong officer cadre of the 15-lakh strong armed forces.