Indian Air Force, IAF's Aircraft AN-32 carrying 13 people gone missing, IAF launches massive search operation with help of Indian Navy and ISRO

An Indian Air Force aircraft AN-32, which took off from Jorhat, Assam on June 3rd with 13 people onboard has gone missing near Mechuka, West Siang district of Arunachal Pradesh. Following the incident, the IAF has launched a massive search operation to find the wreckage of the missing aircraft. The Indian Navy, along with The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) has given a helping hand for the search operation.

Latest News: Wreckage of missing IAF's aircraft spotted in Arunachal Pradesh after 8 days of massive search, confirms Air Force

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The Antonov An-32 aircraft took off at 12:27 pm on 3rd June 2019, from Assam for the Mechuka Advance Landing Ground in Arunachal Pradesh by 1:17 pm. However, the contact was lost at 1 pm with the ground station. The 40-year-old aircraft, which is a tactical transport aircraft used widely by the IAF was carrying eight crew members which include seven officers led by a Wind Commander along with five passengers.

The terrain which is under the An-32’s route is remote and is densely forested. The landings in the Mechuka airstrip are tough due to the harsh weather conditions and unwelcoming landscape. It is the closest landing ground to the India-China border nearing the McMohan line.

The recently elected defence minister, Mr Rajnath Singh who was in Siachen for a visit was notified about the incident and steps taken under IAF to locate the missing aircraft. Mr Singh on his Twitter account wrote that he prays for the safety of all the passengers present in the plane.
After the IAF failed to build contact with the aircraft and it failed to arrive at its destination on time, the IAF launched a massive search operation to locate the remains of Soviet-produced aircraft.

The IAF has used most of its resources, which includes C-130JAN-32, A Sukhoi-30MKl, and Mi-17 and ALH helicopters to find the missing aircraft. The ground forces include troops from the Indian Army, Indo Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and state police. The search operation carried on throughout the night on June 4th 2019.

24 hours since the aircraft went missing, the Indian Navy gave a helping hand to the IAF. Navy’s Long Range Maritime Reconnaissance aircraft P8i joined the search operation. The P8i will utilise its Electro-Optical and Infra-Red (EO & IR) sensors in the dense forest areas between Jorhat and Mechuka. The ISRO satellites have been followed into action for the search and rescue operation.

An IAF's spokesperson on 4th June said, “The Search and Rescue (SAR) has resumed as the weather clears up. Two Mi17s and one ALH has already been deployed with the ground party of the Army and the ITBP. More assets may be deployed.”

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Three years back in July 2016, an Antonov An-32 twin-engine turboprop transport aircraft disappeared while flying over the Bay Bengal and heading to the Andaman and Nicobar Islands from Tambaram Air Force Station in the city of Chennai. The search operation launched to find the missing aircraft became one of the most extensive search operations over the sea. The 29 people in the aircraft were presumed dead in an accident.

The flight went missing on 22 July 2016 and On 1 August 2016, it was confirmed that the aircraft had no underwater locator beacon (ULB). It did have two emergency locator transmitters (ELTs). On 15 September 2016, the search and rescue mission was called off; all 29 people on board were presumed dead and their families were notified the same.

Latest News: Wreckage of missing IAF's aircraft spotted in Arunachal Pradesh after 8 days of massive search, confirms Air Force

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