An Indian Air Force (IAF) jet crashed in Odisha’s Mayurbhanj district on Wednesday, gouging a 10-foot crater in the middle of a paddy field, while the two pilots were injured despite managing to eject.
The BAE Systems Hawk advanced trainer aircraft took off on a routine sortie from Kalaikunda air force base in West Bengal, but plummeted to the ground at around 1.30pm after flying for nearly 50 km.
The latest mishap comes on the tail of a series of accidents involving Indian Air Force planes over the past few months.
A MiG-27 fighter jet crashed at Tantipara in West Bengal’s Alipurduar region this month, killing two civilians on the ground as the pilot ejected safely, while a Jaguar combat aircraft fell to the ground in Haryana this March though there were no casualties.
Inspector general of police in Odisha’s northern range, Asit Panigrahi, said the trainer aircraft was gutted while police found both the pilots three kilometres from the crash site.
“The pilots were badly injured but safe. After preliminary medical treatment at the local hospital, they were airlifted to their base,” he said.
Senior air force officials from the Kalaikunda base visited the spot for a preliminary investigation, while an IAF aircraft did an aerial survey of the crash site.
Sources said a high-level air force team is expected to start a probe to establish the reasons behind the crash.
India has the world’s largest fleet of the Hawk Mk132, a British single-engine, jet-powered advanced trainer aircraft that was formally inducted into the IAF on February 23, 2008, in protracted procurements lasting over two decades.
The air force and navy have 123 Hawks on order with 90 of them already in service, while Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is building another 33 in Bengaluru as part of an agreement with BAE.