A day before the opening of the biennial Aero India show, the Indian air force's Surya Kiran display team has lost two BAE Hawk 132 advanced jet trainers during a practice session, with one pilot killed in the accident.
Footage on social media shows that the two aircraft were performing a mirror-image manoeuvre, where one jet flies inverted, but in a slightly offset position, to create the impression of the two aircraft “mirroring” each other.
The video suggests that the inverted Hawk drifted lower, causing its nose to strike the other Hawk’s wing. The impact shears off the nose of the inverted jet while pivoting the other jet 90˚ to point straight up. A parachute rapidly deploys from this aircraft as one pilot ejects.
A brief statement from the Indian air force says that two pilots ejected safely but suffered injuries, while one pilot was killed. A court of inquiry will take place.
Images on social media show the burning wreckage of one aircraft on the ground, having barely missed an unoccupied house when it came down.
The Hawk accident follows a 31 January crash in Bengaluru involving a Dassault Mirage 2000 fighter. After undergoing extensive upgrade work at the city’s Hindustan Aeronautics factory, the jet crashed while attempting to take off from the company-run airport in the city.
The Surya Kiran team performs with a formation of nine aircraft.