New Delhi :
As the massive search operation for the missing Soviet-origin Antonov-32 Indian Air Force (IAF) aircraft entered the fourth day, the Army has deployed its UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) over Arunachal Pradesh and Assam. The IAF has also pressed its Mi-17 choppers into service.
“Army deploys its UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) to search for the missing AN-32 transport aircraft over Arunachal Pradesh-Assam. IAF’s Mi-17 choppers and other aircraft also being used for the operation,” reported news agency ANI.
AN-32 search update: Army deploys its UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicle) to search for the missing AN-32 transport aircraft over Arunachal Pradesh-Assam. IAF’s Mi-17 choppers and other aircraft also being used for the operation.— ANI (@ANI) June 6, 2019
Aircraft equipped with advanced sensors including C-130J, AN-32 and the Indian Navy's long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft and P8I are also being used to locate the missing plane, officials said.
There is still no trace of the AN-32 transport plane that went missing near the thickly-forested Menchuka in Arunachal Pradesh.
The Russian-origin transport aircraft, with 13 people on board, went missing on Monday afternoon, around 33 minutes after taking off from Jorhat in Assam for Menchuka, near the border with China.
The IAF has been regularly updating the families of all air-warriors on board the aircraft about the rescue operation. Military sources said rescuers have not received any signal from the emergency locator beacon in the missing plane, adding there is a possibility that the device may not have been functional.
They said the plane that went missing is yet to be upgraded with latest avionics and radars, though some of the AN-32 were strengthened with advanced systems.
The Indian Navy's P-8I aircraft was deployed on Tuesday as it has electro-optical and infra-red sensors which could be helpful in the search operation. IAF officials said ISRO's Cartosat and RISAT satellites are taking images of the area around Menchuka to help the rescuers find the plane. They said the area has thick vegetation and difficult terrain which are making the rescue operation challenging.
The IAF on Monday said the aircraft took off from Jorhat at 12.27 pm for the Menchuka advance landing ground, and its last contact with the ground control was at 1 pm. A total of eight aircrew and five passengers were on board the aircraft. The AN-32 is a Russian origin aircraft and the IAF currently operates a sizeable number of it. It is a twin-engine turboprop transport aircraft.