The Indian Army has announced that it has decided to induct women as pilots in its aviation wing and the first batch is likely to be admitted for training in July 2021.
Indian Army Issues Instructions
Addressing a press conference ahead of Army Day on January 15, Chief of Army Staff Gen MM Naravane said he had issued instruction a month ago to induct women in the flying branch of the Indian Army.
As of now, women are allowed in air traffic control and ground duties in the Army aviation wing. “The Adjutant General’s branch, the Military Secretary branch and the Aviation Directorate have arrived at a consensus that women officers can be there in the flying branch for flying duties,” the Army Chief said.
Next Course in July
“The next course will start in July and women officers will definitely be admitted into it for pilot training. After one year’s training they will be able to join frontline operations units for flying duties,” the Army chief added.
Year 1942 saw the inception of the Army Aviation wing of the RAF in India and the first Indian Air Observation Post flight was raised in August 1947. The Air Observation Post remained a small and elite arm throughout the 1950s and on the eve of the 1965 war, the Air Observation Post comprised of only one Squadron and four Flights.
The Indo- Pak Wars of 1965 and 1971 were fields and skies of glory for this small band of the winged warriors and aviators made a name for themselves with their innumerable acts of valour and gallantry in the skies. While the Chetaks were inducted in the Army in March 1969, the first of the Cheetas were inducted in 1971.
Formed on November 1, 1986, the country’s Army Aviation Corps comprises of helicopters which fly in conflict and peace zones. It is pressed into action for the evacuation of injured troops during operations or health emergencies in high altitude areas. It also takes up duties involving reconnaissance, observation, casualty evacuation, essential load drops and combat search and rescue.
The Siachen Glacier has been the final frontier for the Army Aviation Corps. Routinely operating at 20,000 feet and above on the extreme fringes of its flight envelope, the Cheetah helicopter has been carrying out yeoman service as the workhorse of the glacier.
The Army Aviation Corps of the Indian Army has singularly been responsible for saving hundreds of lives, besides providing life-sustaining logistic support while operating constantly at super high altitudes; a feat unparalleled by any other Army in the world.
Operation Vijay was Army Aviation’s finest hour when so much was rested on the wings of a motley group of a few good men. Their professionalism, grit, courage and tactical skills and sterling performance was recognised with two Squadrons receiving the Chief of Army Staff’s Unit Citations, two Vir Chakras and innumerable other gallantry awards.
Army Aviation, too, has embarked on the path of rapid operational growth keeping in pace with the ongoing modernisation of the Indian Army. The year 2001 saw the raising of the first advanced light helicopter (ALH) Sqn in Army Aviation.
Second ALH Sqn, 202 Army Aviation Sqn (UH) was raised in year 2004 followed by 203 Army Aviation Sqn (UH) in year 2007 and 204 Army Aviation Sqn (UH) in year 2009. After raising of four Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Squadrons, the fifth ALH Squadron fitted with more powerful SHAKTI engine specially designed for high altitude ops is under raising at Bengaluru providing impetus to the capability enhancement towards utility roles. The ALH nicknamed as “Dhruv” has changed the face of operations in Army Aviation and has already given a major boost to the tactical capability of Army.