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Indian Air Force’s Tejas Fighter Jet Crashes For The First Time

For the first time in nearly eight years since its introduction, an indigenous fighter aircraft of the Indian Air Force crashed in the western state of Rajasthan on Tuesday.

According to a statement by the Indian Air Force, the pilot managed to eject safely from the aircraft.

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India, aiming to reduce its dependency on foreign defense equipment imports, has been emphasizing local manufacturing under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.

Named Tejas, which translates to “flame” or “brilliance” in Sanskrit, the light combat jet was incorporated into the Indian Air Force in 2016 after a prolonged period of modernization efforts to update its predominantly Soviet-era fleet.

An officer from the Indian Air Force mentioned that Tuesday’s crash marks the first safety incident for the jet since its inaugural test flight over two decades ago.

Prime Minister Modi outlined ambitious plans last year to significantly increase the value of annual defense exports to $5 billion by 2025, up from 2023 levels. His administration has been actively pursuing diplomatic channels to facilitate the export of Tejas aircraft.

In 2021, the Indian government awarded a $6 billion contract to state-owned Hindustan Aeronautics Limited for the production of 83 Tejas jets, signaling a significant advancement in the program.

Despite facing design and other challenges, the Tejas project has encountered obstacles in the past, including rejection by the Indian Navy due to perceived weight issues.