The mid-air collision between two Hawk
aircraft of the aerobatic team Surya Kiran
on Tuesday is probably the first after the elite unit was re-grouped in 2015 after a gap of four years but the show-stopping high-risk display flying arm of the Indian Air Force
(IAF) has had its share of serious accidents. Surya Kiran
, used as a mascot for the IAF to inspire youngsters
to take up military aviation, is in its second avatar flying sub-sonic advanced jet trainers Hawk
132 that made an appearance in new livery four years ago after replacing jaded Kiran Mk II intermediate jet trainers.
The Surya Kiran team with Kiran Mk II aircraft was wound up in 2011 but not before a series of accidents. In January 2009, Wing Commander R.S. Dhaliwal died in a crash near Surya Kiran's home base Bidar in Karnataka.
Another aircraft crashed in December 2007. In March 2006, another crash took place in Bidar killing two pilots. The British-origin Hawks are made in India by Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL). These are used to train pilots in advanced fighter flying skills.
Apart from IAF, the Royal Air Force aerobatics team Red Arrows also flies the Hawks. Surya Kiran had returned to Aero India air show in Bengaluru in 2017 after a gap of nearly four years.
IAF started inducting Hawks in 2008 and till 2016 four had crashed.