Thursday’s crash of an Indian Air Force Hawk advanced jet trainer (AJT) in Kalaikunda air base in West Bengal is the fourth of the fleet.
The IAF inducted the British-origin Hawk Mk132 aircraft in 2008 to simplify the training of its fighter pilots.
Here’s all you need to know about the AJTs:
NUMBERS: India had placed orders for a total of 123 Hawk AJTs. Twenty four planes were delivered by British aerospace firm BAE Systems in fly-away condition, while Bengaluru-based Hindustan Aeronautics Limited is licensed to produce the remaining aircraft.
ROLE: The Hawks were inducted to meet a long-standing need of the IAF. The planes are crucial for the training of combat pilots as they serve as a bridge between subsonic trainers and supersonic fighters such as Sukhoi-30 MKI, Mirage 2000, Jaguar and MiG variants. Pilots carry out the final stage of their training on Hawks for one year at Bidar in Karnataka.
ACCIDENTS: The first Hawk crash took place in April 2008, just two months after the IAF inducted the planes. This was followed by another crash in May 2011. The IAF concluded human error (air crew) was the reason for both accidents. A third plane went down in June 2015. Luckily, pilots have managed to eject safely in all cases.
COST: The four planes that have gone down during the last eight years represent a loss of around Rs 280 crore. Close to 100 IAF planes have been involved in accidents since 2007.
FEATURES: Hawks come with modern avionics, advanced navigation systems and multi-function displays to ease pilot training. Other features include cockpit video recording, heads-up displays and mission computers. Modified Hawks can be used as lightweight fighters for air combat and ground attack.