BREAKING NEWS: First IAF Hawk AJT Crashes!

The first IAF Hawk AJT crashed at 406 Air Force Station Bidar at 12.40PM on April 29. Just broke the news on Headlines Today. The crash happened just after take-off. Both pilots ejected and are safe. The aircraft is one of the first batch delivered by BAe Systems to the IAF. The Hawks were formally inducted into operational service with the IAF at a glittering ceremony in February this year. Just over two months after induction, the first crash.

There were whispers shortly after the Hawks landed in Bidar that the IAF was miffed with the quality of spares and some assemblies, though nothing could be confirmed at that time. And now a crash. IAF spokesperson Wg Cdr Mahesh Upasani incidentally has emphasised that there was no loss of life or damage to property on the ground, though the aircraft has been completely destroyed.

Crashes happen. That's the hard truth. But was there more to this one? There were complaints of shoddy spare kits and aggregates shipped from the UK with the initial fleet. There was talk of how the stuff sent was old stock, rusty. A court of inquiry has been ordered with the participation of personnel from Training Command. Let's see what happens. Was there a bird hit, or a problem with the Hawk's Rolls Royce MK-871 Adour turbofan?

A sad and disturbing day. But let me quote from the IAF's hand-out from the day the Hawks were inducted at Bidar on February 23: "The induction of the Hawk 132 has satisfied a long felt need of the Indian Air Force to have an Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) to bridge the gap between the slow speed jet trainer aircraft like Kiran, and the advanced fighter aircraft currently in the IAF's inventory. The need for an AJT has only increased in urgency ever since it was first articulated by the IAF in 1982. Induction of newer, sophisticated fighters, and upgrades of the existing ones, meant that the technology gap facing a young fighter pilot, and hence, the skills demanded of him, have both increased substantively."

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