Israel Air Force planes fly over Tel Aviv. .
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
Israel Air Force commander Maj.-Gen.
Amikam Norkin on Tuesday appointed two women to senior positions, including the first woman to command an aviation squadron.
“She will be the first female pilot to have this position and to have this rank,” read a statement from the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit.
“Maj. T.,” whose name is being withheld for security reasons, will be promoted to lieutenant- colonel and head a squadron of IAF transport planes.
Another woman, “Maj. M.,” was appointed to command the IAF’s Operational Command and Control Unit and is being promoted to the rank of lieutenant-colonel. Accord- ing to the statement, she will be the first female air traffic controller to reach that rank.
In November, a woman was appointed deputy commander of a combat squadron. The officer, an F-15 navigator, will serve in the Spearhead Squadron, which flies F-15 fighter jets out of Tel Nof Air Base, near Rehovot. In addition, two other female officers were appointed deputy commanders of squadrons of unmanned aerial vehicles, commonly known as a drones, out of Palmahim Air Base, near Rishon Lezion.
In 1949, the Israeli army became the first in the world to introduce mandatory military service for both men and women, and in 1951, Yael Rom became the first graduate of the prestigious pilot’s course. But a short while later, women were barred from combat positions and from becoming pilots.
In 1993, South African immigrant Alice Miller successfully sued the military for the right to join the pilot training course. While she was declared medically unfit for a role as pilot, her actions shattered the IAF’s glass ceiling for women, opening the course to female trainees.
Five years later, Sheri Rahat graduated from the pilot’s course and became a navigator on an F-16 fighter jet. In 2000, Lt. Roni Zuckerman, the granddaughter of two leaders of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, became the first woman to graduate as a combat fighter pilot.
Despite the air force encouraging women to enlist after the High Court of Justice ruled in favor of Miller in 1995, only 49 women have completed the course.
Of some 600 cadets who pass preliminary tests for the course, about two-thirds drop out in the first year of the three-year intensive pilot training, and only 30 to 40 of those who stay successfully complete the course, according to the IAF.