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  Opinion   Edit  13 Mar 2024  AA Edit | Probe Tejas crash thoroughly

AA Edit | Probe Tejas crash thoroughly

THE ASIAN AGE.
Published : Mar 14, 2024, 12:00 am IST
Updated : Mar 14, 2024, 12:00 am IST

First crash in 23 years prompts investigation into backbone of Indian Air Force; transparency vital for air defense capabilities

A Tejas aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) in flames after it crashed during an operational training sortie, near Jaisalmer on March 12, 2024. (Image: PTI)
 A Tejas aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) in flames after it crashed during an operational training sortie, near Jaisalmer on March 12, 2024. (Image: PTI)

It is only the first crash in 23 years since the first test flight of a Tejas light combat aircraft, which is the backbone of the Indian Air Force, but it must be thoroughly probed. The IAF is never known to share the findings of its courts of inquiry into crashes, perhaps because security considerations preclude sharing such details publicly.

The inquiry must, however, get to the bottom of the incident that saw the fighter jet crash into a five-room student hostel, causing no injuries or loss of life, to rule out any misgivings over a vital cog in the functioning of the air force.

The safety record of the MiGs that were the forerunners to the Tejas got so frequent as the fleet aged that there were murmurs of dissent from the families of IAF pilots whose lives were frequently at risk in those crashes. And we lost more than a few seasoned pilots to those lumbering machines falling off the sky.

In moving on to a more modern fleet of Tejas aircraft, the IAF had taken a giant leap into modern combat aviation aircraft. With the pilot ejecting in time as the jet plummeted, there was no loss of crew either, but the need for a comprehensive probe cannot be overstated.

The aircraft was returning to its base from an impressive Bharat Shakti military exercise in Pokhran where the efficiency of indigenous aircraft and weaponry was on display, with the Prime Minister in attendance. The incident that occurred in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan later was the sole blot on the record of the “Atmanirbhar” movement in defence acquisitions that was on show.  

The indigenously developed Tejas is a leading showpiece of a thrust for lessening reliance on imports of military equipment, mostly Russian, and is already of two-squadron strength in the IAF, with the Cabinet having recently approved the procurement of 73 LCA Tejas Mk-1A fighters, which are 4.5 generation aircraft.  

The aircraft serve vital functions in air combat and support missions as well as in marine reconnaissance. There is no room for panic but the need to know why the crash happened is vital to the IAF that is way short of the number of squadrons it needs to cope with the required air defence capabilities.

 

Tags: tejas, indian air force, aircraft crash