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March 13, 2024

Tejas Aircraft Crashes in Rajasthan During Training Sortie, Pilot Safe; IAF Orders Inquiry

A Tejas light combat aircraft (LCA) belonging to the Indian Air Force met with an accident during an operational training sortie in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan. This marks the first such incident involving the domestically developed jet, yet fortunately, the pilot managed to eject safely, averting any casualties, as confirmed by officials.

The crash site, located approximately 100 km away from the Pokhran desert, where the extensive military exercise ‘Bharat Shakti’ was underway and being observed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and senior military personnel, drew attention. Military sources hinted that the Tejas jet was scheduled to participate in the exercise, raising further interest in the incident’s circumstances.

Additional Superintendent of Police Mahendra Singh of Jaisalmer assured that there were no losses of life or property reported in the vicinity of the crash, situated near Kalla residential colony. Eyewitnesses observed thick black smoke emanating from a single-storey brick structure where the aircraft came down.

The Indian Air Force promptly announced that a court of inquiry has been initiated to determine the cause behind the accident, signaling the seriousness with which the incident is being approached.

This mishap represents the first instance of a Tejas jet being involved in such an accident since its inception. Manufactured by the state-run aerospace giant Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL), the Tejas aircraft serves as a formidable platform for air combat and offensive air support missions, with reconnaissance and anti-ship operations as its secondary roles.

With the Indian Air Force poised to make Tejas aircraft its mainstay, nearly 40 initial variants have already been inducted. Notably, in February 2021, the defence ministry finalized a Rs 48,000 crore deal with Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd for the acquisition of 83 Tejas MK-1A jets. Moreover, in a significant move last November, the ministry granted initial approval for the procurement of an additional batch of 97 Tejas jets for the Indian Air Force, underscoring its strategic importance in the nation’s defense framework.

As the investigation progresses, attention will be focused on understanding the circumstances that led to this unfortunate incident, while reaffirming the commitment to the indigenous aerospace capabilities of the nation.

Jhumpa Lahiri

Jhumpa Lahiri

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