IAF Vice Chief issues clarification on women fighter pilots
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Last Updated: Friday, November 20, 2009, 00:19
New Delhi: After kicking up a controversy with his remarks over induction of women fighter pilots into the IAF, Vice Chief Air Marshal PK Barbora on Thursday said these comments were his "personal opinion" and issued a clarification short of an apology.

"My remarks concerning induction of women fighter pilots into the IAF have come in for a lot of discussion in the media... I would like to clarify that my remarks concerning 'off-spring' and 'imposing some conditions' were my own personal opinion and not that of the IAF or the Defence Ministry," the Vice Chief said.

Barbora fuelled a controversy on Tuesday with his remarks on the economic viability of hiring women as fighter pilots citing situations where they will be off duties for some time once they had children.

In his clarification, he said the "remarks were made in response to questions by the media during the curtain raiser to the President of India’s maiden flight in a Su-30 aircraft later this month.

If I had hurt any groups’ sentiments, I would like to state that it was not with any malicious intentions of hurting anyone’s feelings or casting any aspersions on their ability."

Barbora said "induction of women into actual combat is a tri-services issue and has demanded a careful orchestrated approach starting with grant of permanent commission to women."

Talking about various aspects involved in the hiring of women as fight pilots, the Vice Chief said, "I am quite confident, as I had also mentioned during the media interaction, that in not a distant future, we hope to see women pilots flying fighters in some form of combat roles. I say this as an ‘air warrior’ and one who abides by our constitution."

Considering many variables such as our country’s societal environmental and cultural ethos of respect and status of women, a step by step approach would be the preferred option in respect of employability of women in the defence forces, he added.

Bureau Report

First Published: Friday, November 20, 2009, 00:19

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