First Female Military Pilots Take to the Skies

By Htet Naing Zaw 27 December 2018

NAYPYITAW—The first-ever female pilots in the history of Myanmar military are already performing their duties shoulder to shoulder with their male counterparts, said Myanmar Army chief, Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing.

Six female pilots are now operating helicopters and transportation planes, and will be assigned to operate fighters and jet aircrafts in the future as they gain experience, said the army chief in his address at the graduation of the fifth intake of female cadets of the Defense Services Officers Training School in Yangon’s Hmawbi Township on Wednesday.

The Tatmadaw (Myanmar Army) has been turning out graduate female cadets to promote the role of female military officers in the establishment, said the army chief.

The military officer training course for women was established in 2013, and each batch accepted between 75 and 100 cadets. Six female pilots who were interested in serving in the air force were chosen from the graduates of the 2017 batch, military spokesperson Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun told The Irrawaddy.

“They were given training last year. They completed training this year. They are all graduate cadets. For the time being, we have no plan to dispatch them to train abroad. They are now operating aircrafts and helicopters. They will have to undergo advanced training to operate fighters and jet aircrafts,” said Brig-Gen Zaw Min Tun.

The military officer training course for women has received high numbers of applications every year, and only bachelor degree holders are eligible for the course while master degree holders are preferred.

The female officers who completed the course are assigned to administrative positions and the non-armed corps, according to sources of the military.

The Myanmar Army stopped recruiting women for non-medical roles in 1961.

“Myanmar women have proven that they are capable in both business and politics. They lag behind just because of [disadvantages of] a [political] system. We should welcome [the fact] that even an organization like the Tatmadaw has consideration for women’s participation and the empowerment of women,” said Lower House lawmaker Daw Mya Mya Myo.

In January 2014, the Myanmar Army for the first time dispatched its female military officers who had been serving in medical roles as military representatives in the national legislature. Consequently, it has also appointed fresh graduates of the officer training course to parliamentary positions over the past years.

The Tatmadaw is continuously turning out female officers so that they can participate in national defense, said the army chief.

The UN and international forums are regularly discussing promoting the roles of women and Myanmar also attaches great importance to women’s empowerment as women are taking greater roles in international armed forces and shouldering important duties, he said.