Wednesday, April 30, 2008

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."

10 comments :

Anonymous said...

Oh ho, there goes....

Anonymous said...

Holy Shit!!!!!

Ankur said...

If BAE have even the slightest blame for this, we should seriously haul their asses up and nail them to the wall.

maveric said...

the very plane that was brought to prevent crashes has got crashed!!! it happend yesterday right? then they(iaf) r breaking the news today or what?

Anonymous said...

they were trying to cover things up. the deal should be scrapped.

Mihir said...

Let us not blame BAE until more is known about the incident. Planes crash from time to time. This one might just have chosen to do so at an inappropriate time. For now, I am happy that the pilots are safe.

Ankur said...

Mihir - a good point. But *if* the investigation does find BAE culpable, we should really get some serious concessions. If it is human error, reprimand the guilty party. But it is almost *never* completely coincidental.

I think that it goes without saying that it is always good to hear nobody was injured.

Abhiman said...

Mr. Aroor, one can imagine had the IJT crashed, then most newspapers would have "lashed out" at the HAL, DRDO etc. But because this is a UK produced plane, there is little criticism.

The Indian Express carried a "plain" report as though it were a routine event. It lacked adjectives, rhetorics, and demanding questions that would otherwise have been used had an IJT or a Dhruv crashed. When a newspaper "stubbornly stands by" a general idea that the Indian indigenous industry is inept, it ceases to be a newspaper and becomes a votary or mouthpiece.

The Express may be a "quintessential" example of "stand by my story" journalism. Since the days of Mr. Goenka vs. Dhirubhai Ambani*, this paper conspicuously tries to be 'investigative' and 'unravel a truth'. Journalism of this kind is done more out of the 'thrill' or 'high' of being called an "investigative" reporter, than any genuine concern for the story itself.

Once such a newspaper like the Express takes a definite stand on an issue, it is impossible to budge it from the stand;; for, doing so may result in a 'loss of face'. The Express fails to realize that the Dec. 2006 series by you, Mr. Aroor may have been relevant then, but it no longer is today. The Arjuns have been proven beyond doubt as per MoD reports themselves, the Akash has passed all trials with flying colours and the ABM tests have been successful too. The readers can also make out over time, that the newspaper is being "investigative" purposefully only for the want of 'journalistic accolades', rather than for any concern for the story itself.

In the story in the Indian Express today, the report explicitly emphasizes that the "IAF says", that the spare parts of the Hawk are rusted, and the "IAF says" that the serviceability rate of the Hawks is 40%. It also does not seek to 'indict' BaE, in its trademark conclusion, never mind that the Hawks have been delivered after 24 years of protracted negotiations. The Express report would not have been so "mild", had a similar incident taken place with the Dhruv or IJT.
Obviously the reporter can claim that he is neutrally reporting the facts "as is", which by themselves are accurate --- however, going by the Express' past record of reporting on indigenous projects, the absence of "virulent" criticism in this report indicates a sure bias. This is selective and biased reporting by the Express.

Thank you.

Mihir said...

EXCELLENT post, Abhiman!

Anonymous said...

Hawk the "brand new aircraft" of the very first batch - fully asembled and tested at OEM -CRASHES.
Reason problem of poor quality of SPARES. Fantastic analysis. We should give National Award for such analysis by STALWARTS.
No more people are fools. Every one is watching.