India’s Tejas Fighter Jet Crashed For The First Time, Pilot Ejected

A domestically made fighter aircraft of the Indian Air Force crashed on Tuesday in the western state of Rajasthan, the first such incident since the jet was inducted nearly eight years ago.

The pilot ejected safely, the air force said in a statement.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government has been pushing for local manufacturing as India seeks to shed its reputation as one of the world’s biggest importers of defence equipment.

The light combat jet, called Tejas, meaning flame or brilliance in Sanskrit, was inducted into the force in 2016 after a long wait in India’s efforts to modernise its largely Soviet-era fleet.

Tuesday’s crash breaks the jet’s safety record since its first test flight more than two decades ago, an air force officer told Reuters.

Modi set out big ambitions last year to more than triple the value of annual defence exports to $5 billion by 2025 from 2023 levels and his government has been making diplomatic efforts to export the Tejas.

The Indian government in 2021 gave a $6 billion contract to state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HIAE.NS), opens new tab for 83 Tejas jets.

The Tejas has been beset by design and other challenges, and was once rejected by the Indian Navy as too heavy.

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