As the aerial and ground patrols yielded no results in search of the Indian Air Forces’ AN-32 aircraft, there are reports that ISRO satellites have been roped in for the mega search to look over the parts of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. According to news agency ANI, the satellites have been pressed into action after the search and rescue mission involving Sukhoi-30MKI, C-130J Super Hercules and other assets were unable to locate the plane that went off radar somewhere around 1 pm yesterday.
The mega search operation for the missing Indian Air Force’s AN-32 plane resumed in morning hours in Arunachal Pradesh on Tuesday. The search and rescue operations include 2Mi17s and 1 C-130J Super Hercules. The Indian Army and the ITBP are leading the ground patrols. However, the cloudy weather and continuing rains have hampered the search. The IAF’s AN-32 plane with 13 onboard went missing from the Menchuka airfield of Arunachal Pradesh on Monday. Later, the IAF had also issued a statement denying reports that the wreckage of its AN-32 aircraft has been found.
Taking to Twitter, the IAF wrote, "Some reports of possible location of crash site were received, however, no wreckage has been sighted so far". The statement came amid several reports saying that the wreckage of the missing IAF AN-32 aircraft has been found near Payum village in the state. The aircraft lost contact with ground agencies after it took off from the Jorhat airbase in Assam around 12:25 pm this afternoon. Of the 13 passengers onboard, eight were crew while the remaining five were passengers.
The disappearance of an Indian Air Force's AN-32 aircraft on Monday brought back agonising memories of another plane of the transport fleet going missing over the Bay of Bengal in 2016. The Russian-origin plane with 29 people on board, including six crew members, had gone missing in June, three years ago, while flying from Chennai to Port Blair.
In 2009, the IAF had lost another AN-32 aircraft which crashed near a village in West Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh, killing all the 13 defence personnel in the mishap. Antonov AN-32 is a twin-engined military transport aircraft that can fly for up to four hours without refuelling.
The IAF operates around 100 AN-32s inducted in the early 1980s. The plane doesn’t have particularly great track records. According to an HT report, some of the AN-32s deployed by the Indian Air Force had undergone some changes in Ukraine. The upgrade was meant for better engine life. Others saw operational changes at air force’s Kanpur facility. India and Ukraine inked a $400-million contract in 2009 for upgrading IAF’s fleet of 100 AN-32 planes, the HT report said.