India's fighter-aircraft Tejas crashes for first time in 23 years in Rajasthan

Indian fight aircraft Tejas's pilot has been evacuated safely, confirms IAF

Web Desk
Screengrab of the Tejas aircraft after crashing in Rajasthan. — News18/File
Screengrab of the Tejas aircraft after crashing in Rajasthan. — News18/File

Tejas, an Indian Air Force aircraft, has crashed in the grounds of a student hostel in Jaisalmer, Rajasthan during a training flight for the first time since its acquisition in 2016.

The pilot evacuated safely, and there have been no reports of injuries sustained on the ground.

This is the first crash the fighter plane has had since its initial test flight in 2001. Notably, the Indian Air Force acquired it in 2016.

The plane crashed on the grounds of the student home, which is near the Lakshmi Chand Sanwal Colony in Jaisalmer, at around 2pm. According to the Indian Air Force (IAF), the pilot was able to successfully eject, and an inquiry into the event has been requested.

"One Tejas aircraft of the Indian Air Force met with an accident at Jaisalmer, today during an operational training sortie. The pilot ejected safely. A Court of Inquiry has been constituted to find out the cause of the accident," the IAF said.

After the crash, the aircraft also caught fire, which has now been extinguished. The aircraft’s involvement in the war activities being conducted in Rajasthan is still unknown.

"I was standing nearby. The pilot of the plane ejected and I saw a parachute open. The aircraft crashed in a ground and there was a loud explosion," a witness on the site said.

The Indian Navy flies single-seat Tejas fighter aircraft, which is also flown by the IAF in the form of a twin-seat training version. On March 22, 2016, the Second Series Production (SP2) version of the Tejas aircraft with the Initial Operational Clearance (IOC) configuration made its first flight. Wheras, the Technology Demonstrator-1 (TD-1) made its first test flight in 2001.

Furthermore, the Tejas, a multi-role fighter aircraft belonging to the 4.5-generation Light Combat Aircraft family, is capable of providing close combat and offensive air support to ground operations.

Tejas is the lightest and most compact aircraft in its class due to its small size and extensive dependence on composite materials. 

The "Flying Daggers," also known as No 45 Squadron, were the first IAF Squadron to receive the Tejas aircraft in 2016. No 18 Squadron became the second IAF unit to fly the Tejas in 2020.

In addition to the 40 Tejas MK-1 aircraft it already flies, the Indian Air Force is expected to receive an additional 83 Tejas MK-1A fighters as part of a contract worth over ₹ 36,000 crore.