NEW DELHI : Sub Lieutenants Kumudini Tyagi and Riti Singh are set to become first Indian woman officers to be deployed on Navy warships as part of the ship’s crew. The duo has been selected as ‘Observers’ (Airborne Tacticians) in the helicopter stream of the Indian Navy. They are to be part of a Multi-Role-Helicopters (MRH)crew and expected to fly the Navy’s new MH-60 R helicopters, 24 of which are on order. MH-60 R is amongst the most advanced multi-role helicopters, it is designed to trace enemy ships and submarines which can be engaged using missiles and torpedoes

They are, currently, being trained to operate a host of sensors onboard Navy multi-role helicopters, including sonar consoles and Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) payloads.

“They would in effect, be the first set of women airborne combatants who would be operating from warships. Earlier, entry of women was restricted to the fixed-wing aircraft that took off and landed ashore,” Indian Navy spokesperson Commander Vivek Madhwal said, as reported by news agency IANS.

Though the Indian Navy does employ women officers across ranks, it had not deployed female officers on warships for a longer duration due to a host of reasons including the lack of privacy in crew quarters and the availability of gender-specific bathroom facilities.

These officers, Sub Lieutenant Kumudini Tyagi and Sub Lieutenant Riti Singh, are a part of a group of 17 officers of the Indian Navy, including four women officers and three officers of the Indian Coast Guard (13 officers of Regular batch and 4 woman officers of Short Service Commission batch) who were awarded “Wings” on graduating as “Observers” at a ceremony held on Monday at INS Garuda, Kochi.

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