For the first time in Air Force history, a woman has begun training to become a tactical air control party airman.

The female active-duty enlisted airman, who was not identified by the Air Force, started the TACP Preparatory Course at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland earlier this month, Air Education Training Command spokeswoman Marilyn Holliday said Wednesday.

The process of becoming an elite TACP airman is long and grueling. If the airman makes it through the prep course, she will then attend the TACP Apprentice Course at Lackland and Survival, Evasion Resistance and Escape training at Fairchild Air Force Base in Washington.

The Air Force first told Air Force Times in May that the aspiring TACP was one of two female airmen who had passed the physical test required to begin battlefield airman training, since the Defense Department opened up all combat jobs to women.

The other woman who passed the PT test is an active-duty officer who wants to become a combat rescue officer. Holliday said that airman is still preparing for her training and her start date has not yet been set.

The Air Force said in May that 10 other women had attempted to enter battlefield airmen career fields, but failed the prerequisite Physical Aptitude and Stamina Test that is required for them to begin their training. Five of those women are current airmen attempting to cross-train, and the other five are new recruits.

No other women have successfully passed the physical test yet.

Air Force Recruiting Service spokeswoman 1st Lt. Erin Ranaweera said there are also three other new female recruits who are in development and hope to become battlefield airmen, but who have not yet passed the physical test yet. One of those women wants to be a TACP, and two want to become pararescuemen. Ranaweera was certain that one of those women has not yet attempted the test, but did not know if the other two had tried and failed, or if they just hadn't taken it yet.

During the development process, recruits learn about issues such as nutrition, proper workout procedure, test-taking strategy, how to conserve their energy, and find out more about potential career fields they might want to enter.

Ranaweera said in May it is not uncommon for male candidates to fail the physical aptitude test the first time they take it.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced his decision to open all remaining gender-restricted jobs to women last December. That included six Air Force specialty codes that covered 4,099 positions: 13C special tactics officers, 13D combat rescue officers, 1C2XX combat controllers, 1C4XX tactical air control party (TACP) airmen, 1T2XX pararescuemen, and 1W0X2 special operations weather enlisted airmen.

The Air Force has not changed its PAST requirements for women.

After signing recruitment papers and passing their medical screening, special operations candidates must pass PAST once to enter into the Air Force Special Ops Development Program, Holliday said.

Under this program — which was launched last October and was patterned after a similar program for new Navy SEAL recruits — candidates spend three to six months training with retired special operators to get in top shape. The Air Force contracts with trainers across the country, so special operations candidates can do their training at home.

Once trainers decide candidates are ready, they take PAST again. If they pass it, they can then enter basic training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in Texas.

The PAST requirements for each of the four enlisted battlefield airmen career fields are as follows:

Pararescue (PJ):

Two 25-meter underwater swims

500-meter surface swim within 10:07

1.5-mile run within 9:47

At least 10 pullups within two minutes

At least 54 situps within two minutes

At least 52 pushups within two minutes

Combat control technician:

Two 25-meter underwater swims

500-meter surface swim within 11:42

1.5-mile run within 10:10

At least eight pullups within two minutes

At least 48 situps within two minutes

At least 48 pushups within two minutes

Special operations weather technician:

Two 25-meter underwater swims

500-meter surface swim within 14 minutes

1.5-mile run within 10:10

At least eight pullups within two minutes

At least 48 situps within two minutes

At least 48 pushups within two minutes

Tactical air control party (TACP):

1.5-mile run within 10:47

At least six pullups within two minutes

At least 48 situps within two minutes

At least 40 pushups within two minutes

Stephen Losey covers personnel, promotions, and the Air Force Academy for Air Force Times. He can be reached at slosey@airforcetimes.com.