British Hawk supply not stopped after Bidar crash: IAF

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New Delhi, May 12 (UNI) The Indian Air Force (IAF) today clarified that the supply of British Hawk aircraft had not been stopped.

In fact, two aircraft arrived from the UK today, an IAF spokesperson said here.

He said the aircraft carried large quantities of spares as per the induction plan.

Two more aircraft would arrive in the first week of June this year, the spokesperson added.

After the crash of a British Hawk trainer at the Bidar Air Force Station in Karnataka on April 29, he said the aircraft were not grounded.

''But, the flying was temporarily suspended for carrying out checks to rule out critical system failure especially as the aircraft are under warranty. This is a normal practice followed after any serious accident,'' the spokesperson added.

The Hawk AJT (advanced jet trainer) had crashed immediately after taking off on a routine mission at the Bidar Air Force Station at 1240 hrs on April 29.

While one of the pilots ejected safely, his co-pilot also escaped unhurt since the aircraft was flying barely few feet above the ground.

However, the AJT, worth around Rs 85 crore, was damaged beyond repair.

This was the first accident involving the Hawk fighters, which were inducted into the IAF on February 23 this year to impart advanced jet training to pilots to reduce air crashes.

The decision to acquire Hawk trainers was taken in the wake of series of air crashes involving MiG-21 fighters.

The IAF is in the process of acquiring 66 Hawk AJTs from the UK following a Rs 8,000 crore deal signed with India in March 2004.

So far, ten of these fighters, manufactured by BAE systems, have been inducted into the IAF. The crashed aircraft was part of that delivery.

The IAF is expected to acquire 14 more Hawk fighters by September this year to start advanced training courses for its pilots.

The IAF had already ordered a court of inquiry to investigate the reasons for the accident.

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