A trainer jet of the Indian Air Force (IAF) crashed in Besoi area of Mayurbhanj district leading to an explosion and complete destruction of the aerial vehicle on Wednesday.
With minor injuries, two pilots, including one trainer, who were airborne in the jet, managed to eject safely through parachutes. The pilots, Sachin Mahajan and Captain Siddhant, were immediately rushed to Besoi hospital and later shifted to Baripada district headquarters hospital. They were later airlifted to Army hospital at Kolkata for further treatment.
Sources said the British made Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) hawk fighter plane (A-3492) had taken off along with two other jets from the Kalaikunda Air Force station in West Bengal at about 12.36 pm on a routine flying training sortie for in-flight training of the pilots. The crash was, however, reported at about 1.28 pm.
According to an eyewitness, the jet plane caught fire just seconds after the pilots managed to eject themselves. With a huge explosion, it fell on a paddy field in Kudarsahi under Besoi police limits. No casualty or loss of property was reported since the hawk crashed nearly 250 metres away from the human habitation.
“The impact of the explosion was so high that the jet plane was gutted and its wreckage pierced into the ground. For a moment it felt like a mild earthquake. For the first time I saw a jet plane crashing in front of my eyes,” said social activist Pravash Acharya.
Police had a tough time as thousands of people from nearby villages rushed to the spot to have a glimpse of the crashed jet plane. IG (Eastern Range) Asheet Panigrahi said five platoons of police force, led by Mayurbhanj SP Anoop Krishna, immediately rushed to the spot and engaged the fire-fighting engines to douse the fire. An IAF helicopter, with a team from Kalaikunda, also arrived.
“Police traced the hurt pilots and admitted them in the hospital. The armed force cordoned off the area to prevent people from going close to the crashed hawk which has been completely destroyed. We have informed the aviation tower and defence authorities. They have assured us to make the area debris-free by Thursday noon,” the IG said, adding that a team of experts are arriving here to investigate the reasons behind the crash.
Though the exact reason is yet to be ascertained, experts suspect that technical glitches in the engine might have led to the crash. Meanwhile, a statement issued by the IAF stated that a Court of Inquiry has been ordered to investigate the cause of incident.
Used by at least 18 operators around the world, the hawk is a British jet-powered advanced trainer with a two-man tandem cockpit.
Initially manufactured by British Aerospace, it is being used in a training capacity and as a low-cost combat aircraft. In India, under licence, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is also manufacturing it.