An AN-32 aircraft of the Indian Air Force, which took off for the Mechuka Advance Landing Ground in Arunachal Pradesh lost contact with the ground station on Monday, sources told The Indian Express.
The aircraft, which took off from Jorhat, Assam at 1225 hours lost contact at around 1300 hours with the ground station and failed to reach the designated airfield.
The aircraft was carrying eight crew members and five passengers. The IAF has initiated an overdue action and employed all its resources to locate the aircraft. A Sukhoi-30MKI, C-130 Special Operations aircraft has been deployed on a search mission.
“Efforts are on to establish the whereabouts of the aircraft. C-130J, AN-32 and Mi-17 of IAF and Indian Army ALH helicopter launched to locate the missing aircraft. Some reports of possible location of the crash site were received, however, no wreckage has been sighted so far. IAF is coordinating with the Indian Army, various government and civil agencies to locate the missing aircraft. Search operations will continue from the air and by ground parties of Indian Army through the night,” IAF PRO Wing Commander Ratnakar Singh said in a statement.
“Five crew and eight passengers carrying IAF plane were supposed to reach Mechuka at 13.30 and it hasn’t. We have initiated search operations,” said IAF PRO Wing Commander Ratnakar Singh. Army and ITBP personnel have also been pressed into action to join IAF in searches on the ground.
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh was briefed on the incident by the IAF. Rajnath, who is visiting Siachen glacier said, “Spoke to Vice Chief of IAF Air Marshal Rakesh Singh Bhadauria regarding the missing IAF AN-32 Aircraft which is overdue for some hours. He has apprised me of the steps taken by the IAF to find the missing aircraft. I pray for the safety of all passengers on board.”
The Mechuka Advance Landing Ground is located in Mechuka Valley in West Siang District of Arunachal Pradesh. It is the closest landing ground to the India-China border nearing the McMohan line.
Antonov An-32 is a tactical transport aircraft used by the Indian Air Force and have been in service since 1984. An-32 has been a trustworthy workhorse for the IAF for many years and is designed to be extensively used.