After a lot of speculation and suspense, it has finally been revealed that Flight Lieutenant Shivangi Singh will be the first woman fighter pilot to fly Indian Air Force’s (IAF’s) latest fighter aircraft, the Rafale.
As per media reports, it has been known for a while that the IAF is training a woman fighter pilot to fly the Rafale, which was inducted into the force at the Ambala base earlier this month, but her name has come to light only now.
Hailing from Varanasi, Singh has been receiving training to fly India’s most advanced multi-role fighter at the Ambala Airbase. She is undergoing conversion training to fly the Rafale jet and will soon join the Ambala-based No. 17 squadron, also known as ‘Golden Arrows.’
The officer, who is one of IAF’s 10 women fighter pilots, joined the Indian Air Force in 2017. After joining IAF, she has been flying the MiG-21 Bison aircraft and was till recently serving at a fighter base in Rajasthan, officials said on condition of anonymity.
Flt Lt Shivangi’s conversion training is unique. She will be converting from the IAF’s oldest jet, the MiG-21, to its newest one. Also, Flt Lt Shivangi’s 2017 coursemate and fellow woman fighter pilot Flt Lt Pratibha is understood to be flying Su-30 MKI kegs at this time.
Flt Lt Shivangi and another flight cadet Pratibha from Rajasthan received wings during the Combined Graduation Parade of Pilots and Ground Duty Officiers at Air Force Academy (AFA), Dundigal near Hyderabad in December 2017.
After her schooling and graduation, Flt Lt Shivangi joined 7UP Air Squadron NCC at Benaras University to fulfill her dreams. After her selection through the common aptitude test, she went to the Air Force Academy for training in July 2016. Her induction into the Golden Arrows Squadron comes at crucial time when Rafale jets are being fully operationalised.
In 2018, flying officer Avani Chaturvedi scripted history by becoming the first Indian woman to fly a fighter aircraft solo. She flew a MiG-21 Bison in her first solo flight.
Chaturvedi was part of a three-member women team commissioned as flying officers in July 2016, less than a year after the government decided to open the fighter stream for women on an experimental basis. The other two women pilots were Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh.
(Note: The story has been updated to make changes to photographs used originally)