Search for AN-32 continues, IAF says no wreckage sighted so far

According to sources, the wreckage of the AN-32 aircraft was located by one of the several helicopters deployed for the search and rescue missions near Tato in West Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh.

New Delhi: The Indian Air Force has said every effort is being made to locate an AN-32 transport aircraft which went missing on Monday afternoon after taking off from Jorhat in Assam. While there were reports that the wreckage of the aircraft was spotted near Tato in West Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh, the IAF has denied this.

The AN-32 aircraft had taken off from Jorhat in Assam but lost contact with ground staff before its scheduled landing in Arunachal Pradesh's Menchuka airfield.

There were 15 people - all IAF personnel - on board when the aircraft took off from Jorhat. The aircraft took off 12:25 PM and its last contact with ground staff was at 1 pm. After the AN-32 did not reach Mechuka Advance Landing Ground, the IAF initiated the overdue action.



According to the IAF, all available resources have been employed to locate the aircraft. In particular, a Sukhoi-30 combat aircraft, a C-130 Special Ops aircraft and several choppers have been deployed to locate the AN-32 aircraft. Help from the Indian Army, ITBP as well as local administaration in Arunachal Pradesh has also been taken.



Defence minister Rajnath Singh has also said he is monitoring the situation closely.



This is not the first time that an IAF AN-32 aircraft has crashed.

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.

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