Flight Lieutenant Shivangi Singh to be first Rafale woman fighter pilot
New Delhi, Sep 24: Flight Lieutenant Shivangi Singh will formally join the 17 Golden Arrows Squadron of the Rafales at the Ambala airbase after she finishes her conversion training.
She is getting ready to fly the Rafale after becoming fully operational on the MiG-21 Bison.
The conversion training is mandatory when a combat pilot switches from one fighter to another.
Flt Lt Singh, who studied at the Banaras Hindu University was among the second batch of women fighter pilots who were commissioned in 2017. The IAF has 10 women fighter pilots, who have been trained to fly supersonic jets.
Flt Lt Singh was earlier deployed at a forward fighter base in Rajasthan. She has flown along with Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, who had been taken captive for a day by Pakistan after his MiG-21 was shot down during an aerial skirmish with Pakistani fighter, a day after the Balakot airstrike.
In 2018, flying officer Avani Chaturvedi scripted history by becoming the first Indian woman to fly a fighter aircraft solo. She flew a MiG-21 bison in her first solo flight.
Chaturvedi was part of a three-member women team commissioned as flying officers in July 2016, less than a year after the government decided to open the fighter stream for women on an experimental basis. The other two women pilots were Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh.
At present, the IAF has 10 women fighter pilots and 18 women navigators. The total strength of women officers serving in the IAF is 1,875.
Last week, Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik told Parliament that women fighter pilots are inducted and deployed in IAF as per strategic needs and operational requirements.
Five French-made multirole Rafale fighter jets were inducted into the Golden Arrows squadron of the IAF in a ceremony at the Ambala air force base on September 10.
Addressing the ceremony, Defence Minister Rajnath Singh said the induction of the fleet was crucial considering the atmosphere being created along the frontier and that it is a "big and stern" message to those eyeing India's sovereignty.
The Golden Arrows squadron of the IAF was resurrected on September 10 last year. The squadron was originally raised at Air Force Station, Ambala on October 1, 1951.
The squadron has many firsts to its credit; in 1955 it was equipped with the first jet fighter, the legendary De Havilland Vampire.
Ten Rafale jets have been delivered to India so far and five of them stayed back in France for imparting training to IAF pilots. The delivery of all 36 aircraft is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2021.
The second batch of four to five Rafale jets is likely to arrive in India by November.
The Rafale jets, known for air-superiority and precision strikes, are India's first major acquisition of fighter planes in 23 years after the Sukhoi jets were imported from Russia.
The first batch of five Rafale jets arrived in India on July 29, nearly four years after India signed an inter-governmental agreement with France to procure 36 aircraft at a cost of Rs 59,000 crore.