In another step towards women empowerment in India's defence forces, Indian Air Force (IAF) Wing Commander Anjali Singh has been appointed as India's first woman defence attache at any of the country's missions abroad.
Wing Commander Singh has been posted with the Indian embassy in Moscow, Russia, as the Deputy Air Attache on September 10. She is an Aeronautical Engineer (Electronics) officer with 17 years of service and has been trained on the MiG-29 combat aircraft.
The position of defence attaches in the Army, Air Force or Navy, have only been given to male officers until the appointment of Wing Commander Singh.
Taking to Twitter, IndEmbMoscow announced, "Wing Commander Anjali Singh joined Indian Embassy, Moscow on 10th Sep as the Deputy Air Attache. She enjoys the distinction of being the first female Indian Armed Forces Officer to be posted as a military diplomat in any of the Indian missions abroad. Wg Cdr Anjali is an AE(L) officer with 17 yrs of service. She is trained on MiG-29 aircraft." IndEmbMoscow is the official Twitter handle of Embassy of India in Russia.
Wing Commander Anjali Singh joined @IndEmbMoscow on 10th Sep as the Deputy Air Attache. She enjoys the distinction of being the first female Indian Armed Forces Officer to be posted as a military diplomat in any of the Indian missions abroad. @IAF_MCC @MEAIndia @WIONews @ANI pic.twitter.com/hOqcbPQlJ2
— India in Russia (@IndEmbMoscow) September 16, 2019
Women have been making steady progress in the three defence forces. In August, IAF's Wing Commander S Dhami became the first female officer in the country to become the Flight Commander of a flying unit. Wing Commander Dhami took over as Flight Commander of a Chetak helicopter unit at Hindon airbase. She is a permanent commission officer of the flying branch in the IAF and has been flying choppers.
Flight Commander is the second in command of the unit meaning that she is the number two in the unit after the commanding officer. Her elevation in the flying branch is moving a step closer towards women officers commanding units and formations in the service.
More than 1,900 women officers, including eight fighter pilots, have been serving in the IAF since July 1. The Minister of State (MoS) for Defence, Sripad Yesso Naik had said women fighter pilots are inducted and deployed in IAF as per strategic needs and operational requirements within the laid down policy, which is reviewed from time to time. "The strength of women officers serving in the Indian Air Force (IAF) as on July 1, 2019, is 1,905. Of these, eight are fighter pilots and 17 are navigators," he had said.
After the approval of the MoD, the IAF commenced a scheme for induction of women SSC officers in the fighter stream of the flying branch in 2016.
Flying Officers Bhawana Kanth, Avani Chaturvedi and Mohana Singh were the first women pilots in IAF’s history who got the honour of flying fighter jets like the MiGs, Sukhoi Su-30MKIs and Tejas. The trio was inducted into the force in 2016.
Flight Lieutenant Kanth is the first women fighter pilot to be qualified to undertake missions by day on a fighter aircraft. In 2018, Flying Officer Chaturvedi made history by becoming the first Indian woman to fly a fighter aircraft solo — Russian made MiG-21 Bison.
It was only in 1992 that the armed forces began recruiting women to streams, other than the Medical stream.