India

Avani Chaturvedi: First Indian woman to fly fighter jet

Avani Chaturvedi speaks to the media in Hyderabad on 18 June 2016 Image copyright Getty Images

Avani Chaturvedi, 24, has become the first Indian woman to fly a fighter jet solo.

She flew a Mig-21 Bison for 30 minutes earlier this week, the air force said.

"It is the breaking of a glass ceiling," spokesperson Anupam Banerjee told the BBC. He called it a "big day" in the history of the country's armed forces.

Ms Chaturvedi was one of the first three female fighter pilots to be inducted into the Indian air force.

The air force tweeted a photo of her standing next to the aircraft after her flight. It took place on Monday 19 February but the news was not made public until Thursday.

Ms Chaturvedi graduated in June 2016 along with two other women, Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh, who will also undertake the same flight soon as part of their training.

Mr Banerjee said the air force is committed to creating a "level playing field".

"This is one more step towards that commitment," he added.

Before 2016, women made up just 2.5% of India's armed forces, working in mainly non-combat roles.

Neighbouring Pakistan has about 20 female fighter pilots - the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) began inducting women into combat roles in 2006.

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