Indian Air Force pilot becomes first female officer to command frontline combat unit

Shaliza Dhami will head the missile squadron in the western sector, near the India-Pakistan border

Indian Air Force officer Shaliza Dhami, 41, has been appointed to command a missile squadron in the western sector, near the India-Pakistan border. Photo: Indian Air Force
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The Indian Air Force has selected a woman officer to command its frontline combat unit — a first for women in the country.

As the world celebrates the International Women's Day, Shaliza Dhami, a Group Captain with the IAF, has been appointed to command a missile squadron in the western sector, near the India-Pakistan border in northern Punjab.

A Group Captain in the IAF is equivalent to a Colonel in the Army.

Ms Dhami, 41, is currently posted in the operations branch of a frontline command headquarters.

She was commissioned in the Indian Air Force 2003 as a helicopter pilot and has over 2,800 hours of flying experience.

She is a qualified flying instructor and has conducted several search-and-rescue missions and flood relief operations.

Ms Dhami had also created history three years ago when she became the first female officer flight commander.

She will now oversee missile readiness and command control on the border with Pakistan.

The number of women in Indian armed forces — a sector traditionally dominated by men — has been increasing.

There are more than 10,000 women officers serving in Indian armed forces, the majority in the medical services, but more women are being chosen as commanding officers.

While the Indian Army, the largest of three armed services, has the most number of women officers with 1,705, there are 1,640 women officers, including 18 women fighters in the Indian Air Force and 559 in the Indian Navy, according to government data.

Updated: March 08, 2023, 11:47 AM