In a path-breaking step, the Indian Air Force for the first time is opening the NCC special entry route for women cadets of the Air Wing who hold a C level certificate.

Applications will be accepted online.

Recruitment to the three services through the Combined Defence Services (CDS) exam is a three stage process comprising of a written exam, an interview with the Staff Selection Board (SSB) and a medical test.

A candidate with a C certificate from NCC can apply directly for the SSB interview, skipping the written exam.

So far, this option was open only for the male cadets of the National Cadet Corps (NCC).

"IAF has always encouraged the NCC students to join the organisation. Towards this NCC special entry scheme was institutionalised, wherein NCC cadets who are C certificate holders in Air Wing were exempted from the written exam and would be called directly for the SSB," an IAF official told IANS.

"In order to ensure equality, the NCC special entry has now been opened for the first time for the women cadets of NCC who are a C certificate holders in the Air Wing. This will give them an equal opportunity to apply for the flying branch of the Air Force as their male counterparts in the NCC Air Wing," the official said.

The registration for candidates will start on May 20, and will be open till June 15.

Last year, the IAF saw for the first time three women fighter pilots being commissioned.

The trio — Flying Officer Avani Chaturvedi, Flying Officer Bhawana Kanth and Flying Officer Mohana Singh — were commission in the IAF on June 18, 2016.

Women form a very minor section in the armed forces, with the IAF having the highest number at 1,350 followed by the army with 1,300 and the navy with 450 women officers.

The 1.3 million-strong armed forces have 59,400 officers.