Night Witches’ Return? Russian Women May Soon Serve as Fighter Pilots


For most of the 20th century, most air forces around the world generally disqualified women from becoming fighter pilots, with these rules starting to change only toward the end of the Cold War.

Russian women seeking a career in military aviation now have the opportunity to serve in any capacity, including as fighter pilots, the deputy commander-in-chief of the Russian Aerospace Forces has confirmed.

“During the training process, we will see who is capable of doing what in order to send women to the kinds of aviation which correspond to their talents and abilities. If a woman can fly a fighter jet, this possibility will be considered,” Aerospace Forces deputy chief Lieut. Gen. Andrei Yudin said, speaking to Russian media on Wednesday.

Yudin explained that all would-be pilots undergo a series of special tests during training, including testing of their psychological and cognitive abilities. Rigorous testing is carried out at multiple levels, including during entrance exams, and continues during training. These tests determine a pilot trainee’s suitability to a particular area of the air force.

Up to now, female military pilots had only been allowed to serve in transport aviation.

Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu made the decision to allow women to train as military pilots in 2017, with the first batch of female trainees enrolled at the Krasnodar Higher Military Aviation School the same year. In the two years since, 31 women…

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