Captain Abhilasha Barak is a serving officer of the Indian Army. She is known for becoming India’s and Indian Army’s first combat helicopter pilot.
Abhilasha Barak was born in 1994 (age 28 years; as of 2022) in Wellington, Tamil Nadu, India. Abhilasha belonged to an army family because of which she moved from one place to another very frequently; as a result of which she completed her schooling in different schools. From 2008 to 2010, she was in the Lawrence School, Sanawar. Then, from 2010 to 2012, Abhilasha studied at Tagore International School, Vasant Vihar, New Delhi. She completed her class 12th from the same school. After completing her schooling in 2012, Abhilasha Barak took joined the Delhi Technological University (DTU), from where she earned her graduate degree in B Tech in Electronics and Communication Engineering. Abhilasha joined the Officers’ Training Academy in 2017.
Captain Abhilasha Barak belongs to a family from Rohtak, Haryana.
Parents & Siblings
Her father is a retired Indian Army officer. He retired from the rank of a Colonel. She also has an elder brother; an Indian Army officer himself. He passed out from the Indian Military Academy in 2013.
Her marital status is unknown.
Career before joining the Indian Army
Abhilasha Barak was a very brilliant student. As she was pursuing her graduation in Engineering, she was selected as an intern in several renowned private as well as governmental organisations. In 2014, Abhilasha was selected as a trainee by India’s primary defence research institute, Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO). After working with DRDO, Abhilasha completed a short internship with the Department of Electronics and Information Technology, Government of India. In 2015, Abhilasha Barak was selected by The Smart Cube, as an intern. After completing her Engineering in 2016, Abhilasha Barak gained employment in a multi-national corporation, Deloitte US, as a Business Tech Analyst.
The decision to join the Indian Army
Initially, Abhilasha Barak had no intentions of joining the Indian Army as an officer. She changed her decision when her father, Colonel S. Om Singh, took retirement from the Indian Army and the entire family moved from military life to civil life. Her decision was further reinforced in 2013 when Abhilasha attended her elder brother’s passing out parade, which was held at the Indian Military Academy. While giving an interview, Abhilasha Barak stated,
I never realised it (that it was so much different) until our family moved out of the military life, after my father’s retirement in 2011. The feeling only grew stronger after seeing my elder brother’s passing out parade at Indian Military Academy in 2013. That was the moment when I knew what I wanted to do for the rest of my life.”
After working for a year with Deloitte US, Abhilasha decided to fill out the form, to appear before the Service Selection Board (SSB). She cleared the selection process in her first attempt, after which Abhilasha joined the Officers’ Training Academy in Chennai.
Career after joining the Indian Army
After successfully completing her rigorous training on 07 September 2018, Abhilasha Barak was commissioned into the Corps of Army Air Defence. Upon joining her unit, Abhilasha was sent to attend the Army Air Defence Young Officers’ (YOs) Course. In the course, she managed to secure an ‘A’ grade. She was then sent to complete her Air Traffic Management and Air Laws Course; a course in which Abhilasha scored 75.70%. Abhilasha Barak had always dreamt of becoming a helicopter pilot, therefore, she decided to appear for the pilot aptitude tests. Abhilasha successfully cleared her Pilot Aptitude Battery Test (PABT) and Computerised Pilot Selection System (CPSS), after which she was sent for training at the Combat Army Aviation Training School (CATS) at Nashik, Maharashtra. In an interview, Abhilasha said,
After completing my training from Officers Training Academy, Chennai, in 2018, I opted for the Army Aviation Corps. As I was filling the form, I knew I was eligible for only ground duty role but I ended up mentioning that I had earlier qualified my Pilot Aptitude Battery Test and computerised pilot selection system in one go. Somewhere in my heart, I always knew that the day was not far away when Indian Army would start inducting women as combat pilots.”
Joining the Indian Army’s Army Aviation Corps
Abhilasha Barak underwent six months of tough training at Combat Army Aviation Training School (CATS). She completed her training on 25 May 2022. In 2021, out of a total of 15 applications from the women officers from different branches of the Indian Army; Abhilasha Barak, along with one more woman officer, was shortlisted for the training of a pilot. During an interview, the young pilot said,
Not many people know about this, but in 1987, during Operation Meghdoot, my father was leading a patrolling party from Amar Post to the Bana Top Post (earlier Quaid Post, when in Pakistan’s occupation). Owing to the bad weather, my father suffered from Cerebral Odema and was brought immediately back to Amar Post, from where he was quickly evacuated, right in time. He owes his life to the Army Aviation Corps and hence, so do I.”
After completing her six-month-long training, Abhilasha Barak was sent as a pilot to the Indian Army’s 2072 Army Aviation Squadron. The Squadron primarily operates a weaponised variant of the Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH) Dhruv, called Rudra.
Awards, Honours, Achievements
In 2022, Captain Abhilasha Barak was awarded the Silver Cheetah Trophy for Excellence, for her outstanding performance in the training.
- Abhilasha Barak was also selected as a Contingent Commander of the Army Air Defence, during the presentation of the Regimental Colours. The honour was presented by the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind.
- While training at the Officers’ Training Academy (OTA), Chennai, Abhilasha Barak learned Judo, which is a form of martial arts, for which she was even awarded merit.
- Abhilasha Barak follows her hobby of horse riding passionately.
- Abhilasha Barak, in her first attempt, cleared the Part B exam; a military promotional exam.
- Abhilasha Barak passed her training at Combat Army Aviation Training School (CATS) with flying colours. She stood first in the order of merit and was even awarded a medal for it.