The Indian Navy and the Indian Space Research Organisation on Tuesday joined the search for the Air Force’s missing AN-32 aircraft, reports said. The IAF aircraft, with 13 people on board, went missing 33 minutes after taking off from Jorhat in Assam on Monday. It was headed for Menchuka in Arunachal Pradesh, near the Chinese border.
The Navy deployed a long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft for the rescue mission, PTI reported. A C-130 jet, another AN-32 aircraft and an Mi-17 fighter jet, as well as an Army helicopter had joined the mission on Monday evening. Ground troops have also been deployed for the search mission.
Navy spokesperson Captain DK Sharma said the P8i aircraft took off from INS Rajali in Arakkonam in Tamil Nadu around 1 pm to join the search mission. “The P8i aircraft has a very powerful Synthetic Aperture Radar which shall be utilised during the SAR sweeps to locate the missing AN-32,” the spokesperson posted on Twtitter.
The ISRO has pressed into service its RISAT series of radar-imaging satellites, India Today reported. The administration in Arunachal Pradesh’s Shi Yomi district has also started a search operation along with villagers.
“Some reports of possible location of crash site were received, however, no wreckage has been sighted so far,” the Air Force had said on Monday. “IAF is coordinating with Indian Army, various government and civil agencies to locate the missing aircraft. Search operations will continue from air and by ground parties of Indian Army through the night.”
In 2016, an IAF AN-32 plane disappeared while flying over the Bay of Bengal after taking off from Chennai for the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. The aircraft was never found, and all 29 people on board were presumed dead.