The Search and Rescue (SAR) for the Indian Air Force’s (IAF) missing transport aircraft AN-32 in the Mechuka region of Arunachal Pradesh, was resumed today which was halted due to bad weather and rains.
IAF confirmed to Financial Express Online that “The sensors on board the aircraft and helicopters that have been put into operation have not picked up and signals of the missing aircraft.” According to the IAF, in addition to Mi-17, SU-30, ALH, and C-130J, UAV from the Indian Army have now been deployed for the aerial search of the missing plane.
Local TV channels in North East quoting Siang District administration have claimed that the spot where the AN-32 has crashed has been identified. On Thursday, Mi-17 helicopters and Indian Army’s Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) have been deployed to carry out the search operations.
On Wednesday morning the SAR by helicopters was called off due to low visibility, however later two SU-30s and the American transport aircraft C-130 Js, along with the ground forces including Indian Army troops, Indo Tibetan Border Police, state police and local villagers.
While the families are being shared with the families on a regular basis, no signal has been picked up by the planes, possibly because the emergency locator beacon may not be functional. On Tuesday the IAF took help of Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) Cartosat and RISAT satellites which were taking images of the area around Menchuka. These images are being used to locate the missing aircraft.
Due to thick terrain and vegetation carrying out SAR operation is a real challenge.
What is known so far
IAF’s AN-32 transport plane went missing on Monday with 13 people including eight crew members, and five passengers onboard.
It is Antonov AN-32 which was headed to the Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground (ALG), located in Mechuka Valley in Arunachal Pradesh.
It had taken off from Jorhat, Assam.
SAR has been challenging due to rough weather and difficult terrains.
Two Mi-17 helicopters, a C-130 Hercules special operations aircraft and Indian Army’s Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) `Dhruv’, SU-30 aircraft, Indian Navy’s P-8I a long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft have been deployed so far to locate the missing aircraft.
ISRO’s RISAT and CARTOSAT satellites as well as aircraft equipped with multiple sensors have joined the hunt.
Indian Navy’s P-8I has powerful Synthetic Aperture Radar and Electro-Optical and Infra-Red (EO & IR) sensors.
The Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) is around 35km from the China border.
This was shut down in 2013, however, it was recently re-activated last year.
The IAF has 100 AN-32s in five squadrons which were inducted in the IAF from 1984 onwards.
These heavy Russian transport aircraft are used for ferrying troops and supplies in forward areas along the Line of Control with Pakistan (LOC) and LAC with China.
Though the upgrade of the AN-32 has started, the missing plane was not fitted with the latest avionics and radars.