All-Female Flight, Female Flight Suits, and Female Fighter Pilots
According to the Air Force Times, the all-female F-15E Strike Eagle combat flight orchestrated as part of Women’s History Month “spark[ed] debate” over the issue of women in combat. The article is largely composed of reader inputs to the Times’ calls for comment. Most of the comments support lifting restrictions, and most (including women) also say the standards should be the same for men and women.
The ironic part of that statement is men and women aren’t currently held to the same standard; for example, in every service women have different (lower) physical fitness requirements. Even the Marine Corps’ much vaunted “combat fitness test” separates scores by gender, despite the claim its intent is to test physical fitness for what some would call a “gender neutral” combat environment. If the military doesn’t currently demand equal physical performance, why is there any reason to believe they would do so should the combat ban be lifted?
Another female commenter noted that it wasn’t ‘transparent’ when she moved into a unit:
Bravo Company, they knew me, they didn’t care. We were all grown-ups. But I noticed when I went to embed with another company that did not know me they watched their language and changed the way they talked until they got used to having a woman around.
Gender is not the “non-issue” some have implied, at least not yet.
The US Air Force recently highlighted female fighter pilots in a special feature. They interviewed three female fighter pilots at Shaw Air Force Base, citing them as three of the 58 female fighter pilots in the Air Force; the article says there are 2,689 fighter pilots in total. In another statistical feat, all three of them are married to Air Force pilots.