The Indian Navy has welcomed its first woman pilot, with Sub Lieutenant Shivangi taking control of an aircraft in another significant milestone for the country’s armed forces.
Shivangi, 24, who goes by one name, will be given her wings and join naval operations in a ceremony on Monday.
“It’s a very big thing,” Shivangi told CNN. “It’s a big responsibility for all of us and I know that I have to do well.”
Shivangi completed her basic training in 2018 at the Indian Naval Academy and was brought to Kochi, in southwest India’s Kerala state, to train with the Indian naval air squadron, the INAS 550.
Until 1992, India’s naval forces only permitted women to serve in medical services.
Shivangi will be tasked with flying Dornier aircraft, which are used by the navy for transport and maritime reconnaissance, taking off and landing on the shore, rather than from an aircraft carrier.
“We also use it for certain rescue missions, and according to the requirement, medical evacuation, and all those things, so I’ll be a part of all those missions,” Shivangi said.
According to Cmdr. Sridhar Warrier, defense press relations officer for the navy, the class of aircraft Shivangi will be flying “cover large distances over the sea and provide information to the ship at sea of any suspicious or interesting activity happening.”
The Indian Navy has positions for 735 pilots, with about 644 currently filled, according to the Indian Ministry of Defense figures.
More than 200 aircraft make up its naval air wing, including MIG 29-K fighter jets, Boeing P-8I maritime surveillance aircraft, several classes of helicopters and reconnaissance aircraft.