The search for the missing Indian Air Force (IAF) AN-32 transport aircraft continued on the third day despite inclement weather. The aircraft went missing on Monday over Arunachal Pradesh with 13 personnel onboard.
The IAF pressed into service a SU-30 fighter, C130 J, Mi17 and ALH helicopters to trace the missing Russian-origin aircraft.
IAF officials reportedly said that all resources available are been put into operation. Besides aircraft, ground patrols and radar satellite, too, are being utilised.
An Indian Navy P-8I spy plane, too, was pressed into action. The P-8I took off from INS Rajali, Arakonam, Tamil Nadu, at 1 pm on Tuesday.
Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) satellites – CARTOSAT and RISAT – were also scanning the area where the aircraft disappeared to help spot the wreckage.
The focus of the search was along thickly forested routes between Assam’s Jorhat and Mechuka advanced landing ground in Arunachal Pradesh. The area is close to the China border.
“Search and rescue (SAR) operation resumes as the weather clears up on Tuesday, which was a hindrance earlier for the team. Two Mi17s and one ALH already deployed with the ground party of Army and ITBP,” Wing Commander Ratnakar Singh said on Tuesday, adding that more assets may be deployed if required.
Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Air Marshal Rakesh Singh Bhadauria, the Vice Chief of the Air Staff, immediately after the disappearance of the aircraft on Monday.
“Spoke to Vice Chief of @IAF_MCC, Air Marshal Rakesh Singh Bhadauria regarding the missing IAF AN-32 Aircraft which is overdue for some hours. He has apprised me of the steps taken by the IAF to find the missing aircraft. I pray for the safety of all passengers on board,” he wrote on Twitter.
Of the 13 personnel, seven are officers and the rest air warriors.
This is the second disappearance of an IAF AN-32 aircraft. In July 2016, an AN-32 aircraft went missing over the Bay of Bengal with 29 people on board while on its way to Port Blair from Tambaram Air Force Station in Chennai.
Despite a massive search operation – India’s largest search operation for a missing plane over the sea – involving the ships and aircraft of Indian Navy and the IAF and scanning of 2,17,800 square nautical miles of Bay and Bengal, the aircraft could not be found.
After months of search, the rescue operation was called off. The government informed the then Lok Sabha that there were no survivors on board the aircraft.