Navy plans to induct women as pilots: Navy chief

New Delhi: Less than a week after the Indian Air Force said it would induct women as fighter aircraft pilots, navy chief Admiral R.K. Dhowan on Wednesday said they would soon induct women as naval pilots, though for flying surveillance aircraft.

However, ther are no plans to send women on warships as of now, said Admiral Dhowan.

"Indian Navy is not lagging behind. We are very proud of our women officers," Dhowan said at a press conference relating to the International Fleet Review in Visakhapatnam next year.

He said women were involved in different activities in the navy as air traffic controllers and observers on board aircraft, and in training, education, legal branches and even in overseeing various aspects related to construction of ships.

"We have taken up with the defence ministry a proposal that is still under consideration to see how women pilots can be allowed in our maritime reconnaissance aircraft. It is something which is under consideration. The government will have to take a view," Admiral Dhowan said.

According to navy officials, the proposal was now with the defence ministry.

About the induction of women in combat role in the navy, he said it would depend on the government policy.

"As far as the combat aspect is concerned, it has to be in consonance with the policy of the government of India, the policy of defence ministry, as applicable to the three armed forces. As and when we look at the aspect of changes that come about, we will proceed step by step," he said.

According to sources, the navy is facing a problem in induction of women on warships due to lack of facilities like separate toilets and constricted space.

However, designing of ships in future to accommodate women staff is under consideration, the sources added.

Speaking at the Air Force Day on October 8, IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha announced that women would soon be inducted to fly fighter planes in the force.

Once implemented, the IAF will be first of the three services to have women in combat roles.

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