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Update: First crash for India's LCA Tejas

The Indian Air Force's No 18 Squadron at Sulur Air Force Station operated 20 HAL Tejas FOC Mk 1 aircraft, such as this aircraft (LA-5018). This is a representative photo of the Tejas FOC Mk 1. (HAL)

The Indian Air Force (IAF) has reported its first loss of a Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) Tejas Mk 1 fighter aircraft to an air crash on 12 March.

The IAF said in a statement that the aircraft had crashed during an “operational training sortie”. According to the air force, the pilot “ejected safely”. The IAF added that a “court of inquiry has been constituted to find out the cause of the accident”.

A seven-second video of the incident, which was circulated on X (formerly Twitter), shows that the pilot ejected at an altitude of about 1,500–2,000 ft. The video imagery shows the fighter aircraft continuing to glide unattended before it passes out of the video frame.

A Janes assessment of the video has determined the aircraft was likely a single-seat Tejas FOC (Final Operational Capability) Mk 1, as determined by the aircraft having an in-flight refuelling (IFR) probe. According to the IAF, the aircraft crashed near the city of Jaisalmer in the western Indian state of Rajasthan.

The IAF told Janes on 13 March that the crash occurred at 1415 h local time. The video imagery reveals that the aircraft did not have armaments but carried three external fuel tanks (one in the centreline hardpoint and one each on the wing hardpoints).

The video footage shows the pilot having ejected from the Tejas as the aircraft flew over buildings with wheels down.

Pratap Singh, the Jaisalmer district magistrate, told Janes

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