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(LEAD) Air Force taps 3 female pilots as vice squadron leaders

All Headlines 15:30 January 03, 2017

(ATTN: ADDS first female vice commanders of airlift squadrons in 2015 in last para)

SEOUL, Jan. 3 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's Air Force said Tuesday it appointed three female pilots as vice commanders of operational squadrons for the first time in its history.

Last month, the three were promoted as the second-in-command of three fighter squadrons, an Air Force spokesman said.

They are Maj. Park Ji-yeon, 38, from the 16th Fighter Wing; Maj. Park Ji-won, 38, from the 8th Fighter Wing; and Maj. Ha Jung-mi, 37, from the 20th Fighter Wing, the statement said.

The main duty of vice commander is to supervise all aviation operations, and to educate and train junior pilots, it said.

The promotion represents a growing role of female soldiers and officers in South Korea's 630,000-strong military.

Women were first allowed to attend the Air Force Academy in 1997, and the first female fighter was commissioned in 2002.

In 2015, the Air Force appointed two female pilots as vice commanders of airlift squadrons for the first time, the spokesman said.

This photo provided by the Air Force shows Maj. Park Ji-won, Maj. Park Ji-yeon and Maj. Ha Jung-mi (from L to R), three pilots who have been recently appointed as the country's first female vice commanders of fighter squadrons. (Yonhap)

kyongae.choi@yna.co.kr
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