Indian Air Force’s Golden Arrows squadron with Rafales to have first woman pilot soon

On the day when two women officers were selected to embark on Indian Navy warships as part of the crew, official sources said on Monday that a woman fighter pilot will soon join the Indian Air Force’s 17 Squadron ‘Golden Arrows’.

Notably, five Rafale combat aircraft made by French company Dassault Aviation were inducted into ‘Golden Arrows’ earlier this month.

News agency PTI mentioned sources as saying that the woman pilot is being trained to fly Rafale aircraft. They added that the woman pilot, who has been flying MiG-21 fighters, was selected to fly the Rafale fleet following an internal process.

Currently, the IAF has 10 women fighter pilots and 18 women navigators. The total number of women officers serving in the IAF is 1,875.

Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik had last week told Parliament that women fighter pilots are inducted and stationed in the IAF in accordance with strategic needs and operational requirements. “Women fighter pilots are inducted and deployed in IAF as per strategic needs and operational requirements within the laid down policy, which is reviewed from time to time,” said the minister.

Resurrected on September 10, 2019, the Golden Arrows squadron of the IAF was initially raised at Air Force Station, Ambala on October 1, 1951. In 1955, the squadron was equipped with the first jet fighter, De Havilland Vampire.

Five Rafales, the 4.5 generation omni-role aircraft, were inducted into the Indian Air Force at the Ambala Air Base in Haryana on September 10. “Golden Arrows are singularly blessed to be equipped with Rafale. The squadron has undergone intense integrated training with aircraft of other fleets. They are good to go and deliver,” Indian Air Force Chief Air Chief Marshal RKS Bhadauria had told the gathering on the occasion.

So far, India has received 10 Rafale jets. The first batch of five Rafale jets arrived in India on July 29. The delivery of all 36 Rafale aircraft is scheduled to be completed by 2021-end.

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