Kochi, Nov 19: While the Indian Air Force's stance on the women fighter pilots has stirred a storm in the country, the Indian Navy is all set to inducted its first women navigators.
On Friday, Nov 20, the Navy will commission Sub Lieutenants Ambica Hooda of Haryana and Seema Rani Sharma of Uttar Pradesh as navigators.
"This is for the first time that women are being commissioned as navigators in the Indian Navy. It is a proud moment as both of them have completed their training with flying colours," an anonymous Navy spokesperson was quoted as saying in a news agency report.
The two women will be working on the Indian Navy's multi-role Dornier aircraft, which is used for transportation and aerial surveillance.
Being inducted as navigators, the two 22-year-olds also become the first women combatants in the armed forces.
"In the navy the job of a navigator is also that of a combatant as, unlike in the air force, all our fixed wing aircraft can be used for combat purposes. Our Dornier aircraft are also capable of firing," the spokesperson added.
Hooda and Sharma had to undergo 16 month course at the Naval Academy in Goa and other professional schools of the Navy before landing up at the Observer School at INS Garuda in Kochi.
Navigators or 'Observers' handle a long list of responsibilities including keeping track of aircrafts's position at all times, planning the journey, advising the pilots on timings, destination and weather hazards.
While this comes months after the Indian army deployed its first woman battalion of Border Security Force (BSF) along the Indo-Pak border, the Indian Vice-Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal P K Barbora on Tuesday, Nov 18, took a step backwards in terms of gender equality in armed forces when he said that woman fight pilots must delay pregnancy.