Friday, November 20, 2009

ALL MEN FORCE: Senior IAF officer says women will have to wait to be fighter pilots.New Delhi: The Indian Air Force (IAF) will be flying President Pratibha Patil in a Sukhoi fighter jet, but it will have to wait for women to be fighter pilots.Vice-Chief of Air Staff, Air Marshal P K Barbora, on Tuesday gave a statement, which suggests that women IAF officers must delay pregnancy if they want to become fighter pilots.

“We might see this change (women as fighter pilots) coming in with certain pre-conditions - that till this age we require you to be happy, be married (but) let us hope that you don't have an offspring,” said Barbora at a press conference in New Delhi.

Barbora suggested that women officers must plan a child only after “13-14 years of flying service” when “investments” made on a fighter pilot will be recovered by the Air Force.

“We can induct women fighter pilots for show purposes. But we spend an 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,” said Barbora.“Once the lady goes the family way, she will be off flying for 10 months. And when we have invested so much, it is not a fruitful development.”

Barbora, however, assured women IAF officers that there would be a change down the line.

“A few years from now, there will be some change. However, we will not induct women just for the sake of it but for optimally utilising their potential,” he said.

Barbora’s statement may trigger a controversy and reflects the military’s discomfort with using women for combat roles, reports CNN-IBN’s Associate Editor, Defence, Vishal Thapar.

IANS reports the IAF currently has 784 women officers working in different branches, but that they are barred from the fighter pilot stream.

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