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Sub-Lt Anamika Rajeev becomes Indian Navy's first woman helicopter pilot with 'Golden Wings'

NEW DELHI (PTI): Sub-Lieutenant Anamika B Rajeev has become the Indian Navy's first woman helicopter pilot after she received the prestigious "Golden Wings" following completion of a rigorous training at a naval air station in Tamil Nadu's Arakkonam.

In another feat, Lt Jamyang Tsewang, the first commissioned naval officer from Ladakh, also successfully graduated as a qualified helicopter pilot, according to the Indian Navy.

Sub-Lieutenant Rajeev and Lt Tsewang were among 21 officers awarded the "Golden Wings" by Vice Admiral Rajesh Pendharkar, the Flag Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Eastern Naval Command, at a passing-out parade ceremony at naval air station INS Rajali, the Navy said on Saturday.

The parade on Friday marked the successful culmination of an intensive 22-week training programme, encompassing rigorous flying and ground training at the Indian Naval Air Squadron 561, the alma mater of all helicopter pilots of the Indian Navy, it said.

"Highlighting Indian Navy's commitment to gender inclusivity and expanding career opportunities for women, Sub-Lieutenant Anamika B Rajeev created history by graduating as the first woman naval helicopter pilot," the Navy said in a statement.

"Lt Jamyang Tsewang, the first Commissioned Naval Officer from the Union Territory of Ladakh, also successfully graduated as a qualified helicopter pilot," it said.

The Navy has already deployed women pilot for its Dornier-228 maritime surveillance aircraft.

Sub-Lieutenant Rajeev became the first woman pilot who will be allowed to fly helicopters such as Sea Kings, ALH Dhruvs, Chetaks and MH-60R Seahawks.

The newly qualified pilots of the 102nd helicopter conversion course will be appointed to various front-line operational units of the Indian Navy where they will take on diverse missions such as reconnaissance, surveillance, search and rescue, and anti-piracy, the Navy said.

In the last few years, the three services have been focusing on deputing women personnel in key roles.

Late last year, the Navy appointed the first woman commanding officer in a naval ship in sync with its philosophy of "all roles-all ranks" for female personnel.

In 2018, flying officer Avani Chaturvedi of the Indian Air Force scripted history by becoming the first Indian woman to fly a fighter aircraft solo. She flew a MiG-21 bison in her first solo flight.

Chaturvedi was part of a three-member women team commissioned as flying officers in July 2016, less than a year after the government decided to open the fighter stream for women on an experimental basis.

The Indian Army is also progressively opening new domains for women personnel.

The helicopter training school at INS Rajali is known for its professional excellence. In its rich heritage spanning more than five decades, the school trained 849 pilots of the Indian Navy, Indian Coast Guard as well as friendly foreign nations.

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