INDIA. Mumbai: Captain Abhilasha Barak, the first woman officer to enter the Army Aviation Corps as a Combat Aviator, was granted the Coveted Wings by Director General and Colonel Commandant Army Aviation on Wednesday at a valedictory ceremony conducted at the Combat Army Aviation Training School in Nashik, Maharashtra.
The event’s primary guest was Lt Gen A K Suri, Director General of Army Aviation. Captain Barak’s accomplishment was dubbed a “Golden Letter Day” in Indian Army Aviation history.
Captain Barak was granted the Coveted Wings by Director-General and Colonel Commandant Army Aviation after successfully completing her training, along with 36 other Army pilots.
“Young Aviators are now ready to spread their wings in Combat Aviation Squadrons, the Additional Directorate General of Public Information (ADG PI),” Indian Army said in a tweet.
Barak joined the Indian Army in 2018 after graduating from the Officers Training Academy in Chennai, Tamil Nadu. In September 2018, she was assigned to the Army Air Defence Corps.
President Ram Nath Kovind appointed her as a Contingent Commander for the Presentation of Colors to Army Air Defence while she was attached to the Corps of Army Air Defence.
She received a ‘A’ in the Army Air Defence Young Officers training, a 75.70 percent in the Air Traffic Management and Air Laws course, and passed the Part B promotional exam on her first try.
Barak is a graduate of Sanawar’s The Lawrence School (Himachal Pradesh). In 2016, she graduated from Delhi Technological University with a B Tech in Electronics and Communication Engineering.
She worked as a Business Technology Analyst for Deloitte in the United States before joining the Army.
“While growing up in military Cantonments, and being surrounded by people in uniform, it always seemed like an ordinary affair. I never realized that it was different until my father retired in 2011.”
“The feeling only grew stronger after seeing my elder brother’s passing out parade at Indian Military Academy in 2013. That was the moment I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” Barak said in an in-house interview shared recently by the Indian Army.
Barak’s family is settled in Panchkula, Haryana. Her father Col S Om Singh (retd) served in the J&K Light infantry.
The Indian Air Force (IAF) IAF has had women copter pilots for almost 30 years, the Coast Guard also has women copter pilots.
The Navy has pilots flying surveillance planes like the drones but does not have copter pilots. The Indian Army did not have women officers in the flying branch, so far.
Set up in November 1986, the Army Aviation Corps (AAC) was first deployed in India’s 1987 fight with the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Jaffna (Sri Lanka), known as ‘Operation Pawan’. They flew the HAL-developed Chetak and Cheetah helicopters.
Now the Corps and their helicopters operate at high altitudes above areas like the Siachen glacier located in Himalayas where the Line of Control (LOC) between India and Pakistan ends. The AAC operates a fleet of Chetak, Cheetah, Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Dhruv, and Rudra helicopters.
Their duty includes observation, reconnaissance, casualty evacuations, load drops as well as search and rescue operations in addition to attack.