The Indian air force has temporarily grounded its fleet of BAE Systems Hawk 132 advanced jet trainers, following the first crash involving the newly inducted type.
One of 10 BAE-manufactured Hawks to have been put into service at Bidar air base in February, the aircraft suffered extensive damage following an aborted take-off on 29 April, according to air force sources quoted in the Indian media. One crew member ejected from the aircraft, while the other escaped after it came to a rest on the runway, according to a Times of India report.
© BAE Systems
The service's remaining Hawks have been withdrawn from use pending the results of an air force inquiry into the incident. BAE says it "will fully support the Indian air force and Ministry of Defence in any investigation they undertake".
India's AJT project covers the delivery of 66 Hawk trainers, with 42 of these to be completed by state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics. The fleet is expected to begin supporting the instruction of students from June, with current activities focused on preparing instructors to run the training course.
Use of the Hawk will enable the air force to retire the RSK MiG-21 from use as a training aircraft, and also prepare the air force's new pilots for operations with its future fleet of at least 126 medium multirole combat aircraft, the subject of a $12 billion competition.
New Delhi also recently gave its approval for a follow-on deal covering a further 57 aircraft for its air force and navy, while BAE and HAL are exploring the creation of a joint venture to produce the Hawk for the Indian services and potentially export customers.