In a first, the Indian Navy has selected two female officers to don the role of ‘observers’ in the helicopter stream, marking the entry of women as air combatants and giving gender equality a boost the armed forces.
Sub Lieutenant Kumudini Tyagi and Sub Lieutenant Riti Singh will be the Navy’s first airborne combatants to operate helicopters that are onboard warships. The two, awarded ‘Wings’ in a graduation ceremony held at INS Garuda in Kochi, are among the 17 Navy officers who passed out of the ‘observer course’.
Till now, women officers were only involved in fixed-wing aircraft that operate ashore. Sub Lt Tyagi and Sub Lt Singh are likely to be trained on board medium role helicopters in handling sensors, including sonar consoles and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) payloads.
It is expected that they would end up flying MH-60 ‘Romeo’ helicopters that the Navy will procure from Lockheed-Martin. India had placed an order for 24 MH-60 Romeos in a deal worth about $2.5 billion.
“Things are changing in the Indian Navy. The Navy is giving everybody an opportunity. Yes, we’re breaking barriers every day but there are a lot of opportunities coming up. Whatever role the Indian Navy gives us, we will gladly take them,” sub lieutenant Singh told NDTV.
The two women officers will be on board the ships from where the helicopters will operate. After their training, they are likely to be posted on frontline warships.
Till now women have not be considered for such a role because of various reasons, but mainly due to lack of privacy.
Meanwhile, reports indicate that aa woman pilot of the Indian Air Force will be trained to fly the Rafale fighter jets that India recently procured from France.