An Indian Air Force aircraft has been reported missing after it took off from the Jorhat airbase in Assam on Monday afternoon. The AN-32 aircraft took off from Jorhat at around 12:25 with 13 people on board. It was scheduled to land in Arunachal Pradesh's Menchuka airfield. It is reported that the aircraft last contacted ground operations at 1 pm.
After the AN-32 did not reach Mechuka Advance Landing Ground, the IAF initiated the overdue action. The plane had eight crew members and five passengers. All thoe on board are IAF personnel.
According to the IAF, all available resources have been employed to locate the aircraft. In particular, a Sukhoi-30 combat aircraft and C-130 Special Ops aircraft have been deployed to locate the AN-32 aircraft. Several choppers, Indian Army personnel and those from ITBP - apart from local civic officials of Arunachal - have also joined the search operation. Swetika Sachan, DC West Siang District in Arunachal Pradesh, said that the missing plane was last seen at Shi Yomi District near Tato Manigong. "It is difficult to get information from the villagers as there’s no mobile connectivity in Shi Yomi district," she said.
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Defence Minister Rajnath Singh too said that he is monitoring the situation closely. "I spoke to Vice Chief of IAF, Air Marshal Rakesh Singh Bhadauria regarding the missing IAF AN-32 aircraft which is overdue for some hours. He has apprised me of steps taken by IAF to find the aircraft. I pray for the safety of all passengers on board," he was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
In June 2009, an IAF AN-32 plane had crashed over the Rinchi Hill near Heyo village in West Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh killing all the 13 defence personnel on board. The wreckage of the plane, carrying seven IAF personnel and six Army soldiers, was found about 30 km from Mechuka Advance Landing Ground, in the district located about 60 km from the Indo-Chinese Line of Actual Control.,
The plane got airborne from Mechuka Advance Landing Ground at 2 pm on June 9, 2009, and was going to Mohanbari Air Force Station in Assam. But the plane vanished from the radar within a few minutes after getting airborne.
The medium-lift Ukrainian-made Antonov-32 transport aircraft joined the IAF fleet in 1984. The force at present operates five squadrons of about 100 AN-32s, mostly used for carrying Army troops and supplies for them in forward areas along the Line of Control with Pakistan and Line of Actual Control with China.
In September of 2016, another AN-32 with seven persons on board, went missing after it took off from Chennai for Port Blair. The aircraft was not found despite a massive search operation for it. (Full report here)