Women fighter pilots not a good financial option: IAF

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New Delhi, Nov 17 (ANI): President Pratibha Patil flying in a Sukhoi-30MKI at the age of 74 shows how empowered women in the country are, but the Indian Air Force believes in a different manner, and maintains that having women fighter pilots is not a good financial option

Air Marshal PK Barbora, Vice Chief of the Air Staff, said on Tuesday that it is not worth to train women to fly, and explained that it costs about 11.66 crore to train a fighter pilot.

"We can induct women fighter pilots for show purposes. But we spend exorbitant amount on training fighter pilots, and if we are not able to utilise them optimally, it may not be prudent to have women fighter pilots at the moment," Air Marshal Barbora said.

"Once the lady goes the family way, she will be off flying for 10 months out of 12 months. And when we have invested so much, it is not a fruitful development," Air Marshal Barbora said.

"Now while we can always utilise a lady in some other job, but in the pure profession in which we have invested so much if the poor lady herself who has contributed so much ...if we cannot utilise... then it is not fruitful for either party. But we are looking at it and in a few more years we can see a change coming with certain preconditions," he added.

Barbora said that the armed forces have taken decision not to place women in combat roles for the time being, but if that happens in the future, there may be certain preconditions to it.

"We may say (if women are allowed in the fighter stream) that till this age, you can be happily married but do not go for pregnancy till that time. After 14-15 years of service, the value (of the money invested) is recovered.... We are just looking into the area. Even for men, we do not allow them to leave the service before a certain period of time," the Vice Chief of the Indian Air Force said.

At present there are 784 women officers working in various fields in the IAF, barring the fighter stream.

However, Air Marshal Barbora assured the aspiring women officers that there would be a change down the line.

"A few years from now, there will be some change. But we will not induct them for the sake of it but for optimally utilising their potential," he said. By Praful Kumar Singh (ANI)

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