Five women officers of the Indian Naval Air Squadron 314 (INAS 314) based at Naval Air Enclave, Porbandar in Gujarat created history by completing the first all-women independent maritime reconnaissance and surveillance mission over the north Arabian Sea onboard a Dornier 228 aircraft.
The aircraft was captained by Mission Commander Lt Commander Aanchal Sharma, who had pilots — Lt Shivangi and Lt Apurva Gite — and tactical and sensor officers Lt Pooja Panda and Sub Lt Pooja Shekhawat in her team.
INAS 314 is a frontline naval air squadron that operates the state-of-the-art Dornier 228 maritime reconnaissance aircraft. The squadron is commanded by Commander SK Goyal, a qualified navigation instructor.
The women officers received months of ground training and comprehensive mission briefings in the run-up to this historical sortie.
“The Indian Navy has been a frontrunner in driving transformation in the Armed Forces. Its impressive and pioneering women empowerment initiatives include induction of women pilots, selection of women Air Operations Officers into the helicopter stream and conducting an all-women sailing circumnavigation expedition across the globe in 2018, said a Navy press note.
“This first-of-its-kind military flying mission was, however, unique and is expected to pave the way for women officers in the aviation cadre to assume greater responsibility and aspire for more challenging roles. It perhaps marks a unique achievement for the Armed Forces that a crew of only women officers undertook an independent operational mission in a multi-crew maritime surveillance aircraft,” the press note added.