In 2016, Flight Lieutenant Bhawana Kanth joined the Indian Air Force as one of the first women fighter pilots. On May 22, 2019, Bhawana created history as she became the first Indian woman to qualify for combat missions on a fighter jet. She successfully completed the operational syllabus for taking on combat missions on MiG-21 Bison aircraft.
“She is the first woman fighter pilot to be qualified to undertake missions on a fighter aircraft by day. She has been able to achieve this feat with her hard work and perseverance,”
Air Force Spokesperson Group Captain Anupam Banerjee to PTI
Bhawana Kanth was one of the three women who were declared the first women combat pilots along with Mohana Singh and Avani Chaturvedi. The three women joined the Indian Air Force fighter squadron in June 2016. The government of India opened the fighter stream in Indian Air Force for women on an experimental basis. These three women were the first to join the program. Bhawana Kanth graduated in 2014 and joined IT company Tata Consultancy Services. Bhawana had always been dreaming of flying planes. So, she took the UPSC Combined Defence Services (CDS) examination, cleared it and was commissioned into the Air Force. In her Stage 1 training, Bhawana joined the fighter stream.
The MiG-21 is the oldest fighter plane in the Indian Air Force. It was first introduced in the Indian Air Force in the year 1964. MiG-21 gets regularly upgraded. The “Bison” is a variant of the MiG-21. Bhawana and Avani were trained to fly the MiG-21 Bison supersonic jet after completing several stages of fighter aircraft training.
For Flight Lieutenant Bhawana Kanth, becoming a fighter pilot was a childhood dream.
“It was something only boys were expected to aspire for. At least that was the stereotype. But my parents never made me feel I needed to think any different just because I am a girl,”Bhawna Kanth
She flew solo on MiG-21 Bison in 2018 and is now posted at the Nal base in Rajasthan’s Bikaner. “Flt Lt Bhawana Kanth adds another feather to her cap by completing Day Operational syllabus on MiG-21 Bison aircraft. She is the first woman fighter pilot to be qualified to undertake missions by day on a fighter aircraft,” the Indian Air Force tweeted with #WomenPower. We are so proud of you Bhawana Kanth. You are truly a Wonderful Woman and a role model for young Indian girls!