Gender Integration in the USAF Fighter Community: 25 Years of Progress and Persistent Challenges
AIR WAR COLL MAXWELL AFB AL MAXWELL AFB United States
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With the stroke of a pen on April 28, 1993, Secretary of Defense Les Aspin eliminated a policy barring females from flying in combat, opening the door for first United States Air Force USAF female fighter and bomber aircrew. On the eve of the twenty-fifth anniversary of that momentous decision, groundbreaking aviators like Brigadier General Jeannie Leavitt, F-15E Strike Eagle pilot, and Brigadier General sel. Kristen Goodwin, B-52 Stratofortress pilot, stand as exemplars for others to follow. Despite their achievement of General Officer rank and certain hardships in blazing the trail, in the fighter community very few females followed, and their population among the Combat Air Force CAF has been flat among fighter pilots and only incrementally rising among weapons systems operators. Currently, of the 2,400 fighter pilots in the CAF, only 42 females hold primary responsibility as fighter pilots, resulting in scarcity in front-line units. In fact, the CAFs most numerous fighter, the F-16C Fighting Falcon had only one female fighter pilot in the last six years at its second-largest operational wing, the 388th Fighter Wing. Shockingly, the AFs newest fifth-generation fighter, the F-35A Lightning II, currently has zero females of 123 F-35 pilots, despite reaching its Initial Operating Capability IOC in August 2016.
- Military Forces and Organizations
- Attack and Fighter Aircraft