Fuel tank of Tejas aircraft falls in field in TN

File photo of a Tejas aircraft

The Tejas light combat aircraft suffered a set back on Tuesday when the indigenous fighter aircraft had to drop one of its fuel tanks that was on the wings soon after taking off from the Sulur airbase near Coimbatore.

This was done as an emergency step for a successful touch down following a flight trouble.

While the aircraft landed safely at the air base with no harm to the pilot, defence sources said that the accident was serious in nature as the pylon was broken off the aircraft and it was only because of the pilot's top quality skill that the aircraft was saved from a crash.

“Around 8.40 am, one fuel drop tank fell off from a Tejas aircraft on routine sortie from Silur air base near Coimbatore. The aircraft landed back safely after the incident. No damage was reported on ground. The cause of the incident is being investigated,” an Indian Air Force spokesperson said.

Agriculture labourers in Irugur village were shocked to see the 1,200-litre petrol tank fall from the sky, causing a three-foot deep crater and a minor fire, PTI reported quoting local police officials.

After years of delay, Tejas got the Final Operational Clearance in February 2019, clearing the decks for the production of combat-ready platforms for the IAF, which signed a contract with the HAL in 2006 to buy 20 LCA in IOC (initial operational clearance) configuration, but promised to buy more, once the aircraft is fully ready.

But the Bengaluru-based defence public sector undertaking received the IOC in December 2013 and that too for 16 aircraft, out of which 12 were delivered to the IAF by February 2019.

The HAL was to deliver the remaining four by March 2019, but it is not clear at the moment whether the 45 Squadron have all the 16 aircraft.

Subsequently, the HAL would take up the production of 8 trainer aircraft (4 each in IOC and FOC configurations).

The aircraft that met with the accident was SP4, pointed out an official. Since its first flying in 2001, the LCA Tejas has an outstanding safety record.

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