Norway appoints first female air force chief

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Norway appoints first female air force chief
Tonje Skinnarland is the first woman to head the Norwegian Air Force. Photo: Norwegian Armed Forces

Norway, one of the world's most gender equal nations, on Friday announced its first-ever appointment of a woman to head the air force.


The appointment of Tonje Skinnarland, promoted at the age of 49 to the rank of major general, comes as the nation's air force undergoes a modernisation drive, with the imminent replacement of a fleet of old F-16 fighter jets with ultra-modern F-35s.
Skinnarland has been acting as the head of the air force since her predecessor died in October.
After serving for three decades in the army -- never as a pilot -- her promotion is seen as a new milestone on the road towards gender parity.    
Since the early 1990s, the Norwegian army has seen women serve as fighter pilots, helicopter pilots and submarine commanders.
Military service has been mandatory for both sexes in Norway since last year, in a unique case for the NATO bloc. But due to a limited number of places, only the most motivated are kept on the force.
Nearly one-third of conscripts called last summer were young women, who are often housed in mixed dorms to strengthen cohesion within the force.



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