In a first, Indian Navy gets women combat aviators on warships


Ushering a new dawn in the history of Indian naval aviation, two women officers have been selected to join as “Observers” (Airborne Tacticians) in the helicopter stream for the first time. Sub Lieutenant Kumudini Tyagi and Sub Lieutenant Riti Singh will be the first women officers in the Indian Navy to embark on Navy warships as part of the ship’s crew.

Talking exclusively to The Daily Guardian, Lt Kumudini said, “It feels great to be a part of Indian Navy’s history today, being the first women officers to serve on helicopters which is a ship-borne helicopter. We are looking forward to greater changes in future.”

Sub Lieutenant Riti Singh also added that she was feeling thrilled and excited after qualifying as an airborne tactician. “The job profile is challenging as we will be in control of weapons, sensors, tactics and missions, so looking forward to it,” she said.

Indian Navy spokesperson Commander Vivek Madhwal said that they would be the first set of women airborne combatants who would be operating from warships. Earlier, entry of women was restricted to the fixed wing aircraft that took off and landed ashore. They are to be part of the Multi-RoleHelicopters (MRH) crew.

Both these women officers are a part of a group of 17 officers of the Indian Navy, including four women officers and three officers of the Indian Coast Guard (13 officers of Regular batch and 4 woman officers of Short Service Commission batch) who were awarded “Wings” on graduating as “Observers” at a
ceremony held on Monday at INS Garuda, Kochi. The ceremony was presided over by Rear Admiral Antony George NM, VSM, Chief Staff Officer (Training) who presented the awards and coveted wings to the graduating officers.

Speaking on the occasion, Rear Admiral Antony George while complementing the graduating officers said, “It is a landmark occasion wherein for the first-time women are going to be trained in helicopter operations which would ultimately pave way for the deployment of women in frontline warships of Indian Navy.” The chief guest also awarded the ‘Instructor Badge’ to six other officers (five from the Indian Navy including a woman and another from Indian Coast Guard) who had successfully graduated as Qualified Navigation Instructors (QNI) on the occasion.

The officers of the 91st Regular course and 22nd SSC Observer course were trained in air navigation, flying procedures, tactics employed in air warfare, anti-submarine warfare and exploitation of airborne avionic systems. These officers would serve on-board Maritime Reconnaissance and Anti-Submarine Warfare aircraft of the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard.

From the 91st Regular Observer Course, Lieutenant Hitesh Singh was awarded the Uttar Pradesh Trophy on being adjudged ‘First in the Overall Order of Merit’ while Lt Anuj Kumar was awarded the Flag
Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Naval Command Trophy for being adjudged ‘Best in Flying’. Lt
Hitesh Singh was also awarded the Sub Lieutenant RV Kunte Memorial Book Prize on being adjudged ‘Best in Ground Subjects’. From 22nd SSC Observer Course Sub Lieutenant Kreeshma R. was awarded the Book Prize for being adjudged ‘Best in Overall Order of Merit’.