Indian Air Force’s two women fighter pilots are getting ready to go on solo-sortie in a MiG-21 Bison supersonic fighter and are expected to fly all alone in a month or so.
Avani Chaturvedi, Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh made history by becoming the first-ever women to undergo fighter pilot training in IAF. Now, Avani and Bhawana, are getting all set to fly the highly-demanding & ageing MiG-21 ‘Bisons’, which have virtually the highest landing and take-off speed in the world at 340 kmph, by themselves at their respective airbases.
"Avani is already undertaking sorties in a twin-seat MiG-21 Type 69 trainer with a qualified fighter instructor (QFI) at the Suratgarh airbase. Bhawana will follow suit at the Ambala airbase soon. Mohana, in turn, is still with Hawk advanced jet trainers at the Kalaikunda airbase...She will also be posted to an operational squadron in due course," a senior officer told Times of India.
So far, the fighter pilots have undertaken solo sorties in aircraft like the Pilatus PC-7 turboprops, Kiran and Hawk jet trainers during their gruelling training regime.
However, to be declared “fully operational”, the three fighter pilots will have to take nearly a dozen “dual-check” sorties, following which they will be declared fit for solo sorties by the Qualified Flying Instructors (QFIs). In the “dual-check” sorties, the fighter pilots will be taught basic flying techniques, handling the aircraft, take-off, and landing. Following this, they will graduate in tactical flying and operations.
The graduation will be followed by training in air-to-air and air-to-ground combat, and then the three officers will get trained for night flying and combat operations which has two parts – “moon phase” and the “dark phase” – from their respective airbases. “A fighter pilot is declared ‘fully ops’ only after successfully undergoing this entire process, which takes upwards of a year,” another officer said.