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In a first in IAF, father-daughter fly in same fighter formation as fellow wingmen

Daughter of Air Commodore Sanjay Sharma, Flying Officer Ananya Sharma is currently undergoing training to master ‘superior and faster’ jets.

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New Delhi: Flying Officer Ananya Sharma dreamt of following in her father’s footsteps – even if that led to a foray in the air.

That dream created history in May when Ananya joined her father, Air Commodore Sanjay Sharma, to fly in the same formation of fighter jets.

The first-ever father and daughter to do so in the Indian Air Force (IAF), the Sharmas flew Hawk-132 Advanced Jet Trainers (AJT) at the force’s Bidar station in Karnataka.

A photograph of the two kneeling in front of the fighter aircraft surfaced on social media on Tuesday, and quickly went viral.

Gujarat public relations officer of the Ministry of Defence tweeted: “There has not been any previous instance in the Indian Air Force where father-daughter have been part of the same Fighter formation in a mission. Air Cmde Sanjay & Fg Offr Ananya were more than just father & daughter… they were comrades who had full faith in each other as fellow wingmen would.”

Sanjay Sharma is a seasoned fighter pilot in the IAF, commissioned into its fighter stream back in 1989. Since then, Sharma has served in various capacities, having commanded a Mig-21 squadron as well as a frontline fighter station.

Growing up, Ananya imbibed her father’s fighter spirit and watched how he bonded with fellow pilots.

Having spent her entire childhood within the air force community, her first and only choice was the Indian Air Force, an IAF officer said.

After acquiring a B.Tech degree in Electronics and Communication, Ananya was selected for training for the IAF’s flying arm. In December 2021, she was commissioned as a fighter pilot, closely following in her father’s footsteps.

Ananya Sharma is now among the few women flying high in a male-dominated field.

In June 2016, Avani Chaturvedi, Bhawana Kanth and Mohana Singh became the
first women pilots to be inducted in an IAF fighter squadron, facilitating the
entry of other women into the field through an experimental recruitment system.

On 1 February, 2022 — after six years and 16 women pilots — the Defence Ministry finally converted the experimental scheme into a permanent one in a testimony to the capability of India’s “Nari Shakti”.

For Ananya, flying with her father in the same formation is just the beginning. She is now under training to fly “faster and superior” aircraft of the IAF.

Also read: Why IAF fighter pilots are the natural choice for ISRO manned missions


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