IAF chief suggests women can't be given combat role



New Delhi: Air Chief Marshal PV Naik on Thursday appeared to suggest that women could not be given combat role in armed forces in the near future considering the specific "sensitivities" in India and said the issue needs to be discussed further.

To make a point, he said that even the US, where women have been peforming combat role for long, was considering reversal of decision to allow woman to join as fighter pilots.

"There are few things alarming.... I think, this issue in our environment needs much more discussion," he told reporters when asked the possibility of women being inducted as fighter pilots in IAF.

He said he was confident that women as combat pilots would do equally well as their male counterparts but the experience of the US has shown "there were very few successful women pilots" even a long time after they were inducted.

"The three Services chiefs had met where it was decided that the issue required a lot more studies. Because once we take a decision, we would not like to reverse it like the United States," Naik added.

Talking about the concerns that the force has, he said, "If one (woman pilot) ejects and lands on the other side, what happens to her. This is one area we really want to address because sensitivities of our people is different than those of people in say United States."

He said the IAF was taking a lot of opinion from the lady officers who are already flying over sensitive areas such as Jammu and Kashmir.

The IAF Chief, who is also the Chairman of the Chiefs of Staffs Committee, said it was a larger issue which would look at the induction of women in infantry, armoured corps, submarines and combat aircraft.

PTI