Kolkata, Feb 13 (IANS) An AJT Hawk aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) met with an accident soon after take-off from the Air Force Station at Kalaikunda in West Bengal on Tuesday afternoon, forcing both pilots to bail out.
Before leaving the aircraft though, the pilots ensured that it crashed into an uninhabited site, causing no damage to life or property on the ground.
A spokesperson of the Ministry of Defence in Kolkata confirmed the crash and said that both pilots are safe.
The AJT Hawk is primarily an Advanced Jet Trainer (AJT) that takes rookie IAF pilots through their second stage of training before they advance to fighter jets.
The Air Force Station Kalaikunda in West Midnapore district is home to two squadrons of AJT Hawks. These aircraft are twin seaters. Apart from the trainee, there is an experienced instructor on board to monitor her/his flying skills and take over during emergencies.
The Hawks were originally procured from BAE Systems and are now produced under licence at the Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) in Bengaluru. Since their inception, the Hawks have saved the lives of several young pilots.
Before they were inducted, the rookies would undergo the second stage of training in Mig-21 aircraft that are far more difficult to handle, particularly during take-offs. Several young lives were lost in crashes then.