Pregnancy advisory to women fighter pilots not ‘legally binding’: IAF

New Delhi: An advisory that three women training to be IAF fighter pilots should avoid pregnancy for the next four years is not “legally binding”, officials said on Friday.

“It is a formal advisory and not legally binding,” said an Indian Air Force official.

Another official pointed out that the intense training for a fighter pilot is physically demanding and pregnancy in this period may be risky from the health point of view.

IAF officials also say that irrespective of gender, pilots are advised not to get married till their training is over.

“The women pilots have volunteered for the training, it is their choice. There are different requirements for different jobs. Like all other air warriors, they are dedicating themselves to the cause of the nation, it should not be seen in any other light,” said the official, who did not wish to be named.

“Our officers make many sacrifices, many of them stay away from families for long time. It is unfair to look at them from the prism of gender, they are pilots first,” said the official.

The three women — Flying Cadets Avani Chaturvedi, Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh — will be commissioned in the IAF on June 18, and will become the first women fighter pilots of India.

They will subsequently undergo advanced jet training, and later proceed to the regular squadrons.

According to IAF officials, the three pilots are undergoing training at the Air Force Station at Hakimpet in Telangana.

They have so far completed 55 hours of training, and will complete 86 hours of flying training before being inducted.

Women form a minor section in the armed forces, with the IAF having the highest number at 1,350 followed by the army with 1,300 and the navy with 450 women officers, according to official information.

The 1.3 million-strong armed forces have 59,400 officers.