On a Dornier-228 aircraft, five Navy officers from India created history by completing the first all-women independent maritime surveillance and reconnaissance mission in the Arabian Sea.
The aircraft captain was Lt Cdr Aanchal Sharma, assisted by pilots Lt Apurva Gite and Lt Shivangi, and Tactical and Sensor Officers SLt Pooja Shekhawat and Lt Pooja Panda. INAS 314 is a frontline Naval Air Squadron based in Gujarat’s Porbandar that operates the leading-edge Dornier 228 maritime reconnaissance aircraft.
India’s Navy is a forerunner in promoting armed forces modernization. Its path-breaking women empowerment efforts include inducting female pilots, selecting female air operations officers into the helicopter stream, and conducting an all-women, worldwide sailing circumnavigation expedition in 2018.
This military flying operation was the first of its kind, undoubtedly unique, and is also likely to pave the way for female officers in the aviation corps to acknowledge and accept greater responsibilities and aspire to more challenging roles and tasks. A crew comprising only female officers who could successfully do an autonomous operational mission in a multi-crew maritime surveillance aircraft may be a first for the Indian Armed Forces.
One of the major turning points for women in the armed forces came through in 2015 when the Indian Air Force (IAF) chose to induct them into the fighter stream for the first time.
The Navy is giving them opportunities to serve on board warships with their male counterparts. The army has permitted them even to fly helicopters. But combat positions and tanks in the infantry continue to be no-go zones for women.
References: Hindustan Times, India Today