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Indian Navy's first two women aviators inducted

Sub Lieutenants Seema Rani Sharma and Ambica Hooda, the first women observers (airborne tacticians) of Indian Navy after recieving the ‘wings’ at a Ceremonial Parade at INS Garuda in Kochi on Friday. Image Credit: PTI

KOCHI (PTI): For the first time in the history of armed forces, two women aviators were inducted into the Navy on Friday thus breaking yet another male bastion.

The officers--Sub Lieutenant Seema Rani Sharma and Sub Lieutenant Ambica Hooda were awarded the 'Wings' by Rear Admiral Sudhir Pillai, Flag Officer Naval Aviation, at an impressive ceremonial Parade at the INS Garuda here.

This is for the first time that Naval Aviation, 56 years after its inception, has inducted women combatant officers as Observers on board its fleet of Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA).

Sharma and Hooda, the Navy's first women observers (airborne tacticians), were selected for Short Service Commission and initially trained at the Indian Naval Academy for naval Orientation Course followed by Observer School located at INS Garuda here.

"This is a great and proud moment for us, including our instructors and parents," Ambica, who hails from Haryana, said.

"The entire training period was a great challenge both mentally and physically. But never at any stage did we think of giving up. We enjoyed the training throughout," she told reporters here.

Seema, who is from Uttar Pradesh, said "we would give it back to our service whatever we have learned. This is our ambition in life from now onwards".

Commanding officer of INS Garuda, Captain Vijesh Kumar Garg, said it was really a proud moment for Indian Navy to have the two women officers.

"They have undergone all the training programmes given in the Observer course, including ground and flying training besides sea, jungle and survival training which was very demanding," Garg said.

Hooda was adjudged the best trainee in flying of the First Short Service Commission observer course.

During their 16 month training period, they went through a "grinding" schedule which included Air Navigation, understanding complex maritime environment, and tactics of naval warfare besides flying training in state-of-the-art sophisticated Dornier aircraft.

Six naval officers of the 70th Observer course and four officers of the First Short Service Commission observer course, including the two women officers, completed their course.

Addressing the parade, Rear Admiral Sudhir Pillai said the country was acquiring the state-of-the-art airborne platforms, potent weapons and the best of the sensors for the Navy and it was for the observers to exploit them in the best possible way. He also exhorted them to be fully conscious of their role as the 'Eyes and Ears of the fleet.'

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