Debris of IAF AN-32 located at depth of 3.4 km in Bay of Bengal after nearly 8 yrs | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Debris of IAF AN-32 located at depth of 3.4 km in Bay of Bengal after nearly 8 yrs

ByRahul Singh
Jan 12, 2024 05:21 PM IST

The likely breakthrough came after the National Institute of Ocean Technology recently deployed an autonomous underwater vehicle with deep sea exploration capability at the last known location

The debris of an Indian Air Force AN-32 transport aircraft, which plunged into the Bay of Bengal almost eight years ago with 29 people on board, has possibly been located at a depth of 3,400 metres in the sea, the defence ministry announced on Friday.

Twenty-nine personnel were on board the aircraft. (File photo)
Twenty-nine personnel were on board the aircraft. (File photo)

The aircraft went missing while flying from Chennai to Port Blair on July 22, 2016. Massive search and rescue operations were launched but without any outcome: neither debris nor survivors were found.

The likely breakthrough came after the National Institute of Ocean Technology, which comes under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, recently deployed an autonomous underwater vehicle with deep sea exploration capability at the last known location of the missing plane, the defence ministry said in a statement.

Also Read: Massive search Ops on to locate missing AN-32 aircraft

“This search was conducted at a depth of 3,400 m using multiple payloads, including a multi-beam sonar (sound navigation and ranging), synthetic aperture sonar and high-resolution photography. Analysis of the search images had indicated the presence of debris of a crashed aircraft on the seabed around 140 nautical miles (310 km) from the Chennai coast,” it said.

The images from the seabed were scrutinised and found to be conforming with an AN-32 aircraft.

“This discovery at the probable crash site, with no other recorded history of any other missing aircraft report in the same area, points to the debris as possibly belonging to the crashed IAF AN-32 (K-2743).”

The aircraft, which disappeared over the Bay of Bengal, took off from Tambaram in Chennai at 8:30am. The plane was flying 12 air force personnel, one each from the army, navy and coast guard and eight civilians, some of them family members of soldiers. It also had a crew of six.

The plane made its last radio contact at 8:46 am and was last seen on the radar at 9:12am when it was 151 nautical miles east of Chennai. It was due to arrive at Port Blair, about 1400 km away, at 11:45am. The aircraft was at a height of 23,000 feet and losing altitude when it lost contact with ground control.

P-8I surveillance aircraft, Dorniers, helicopters and several frontline warships were involved in the search and rescue around 200 nautical miles east of Chennai.

The AN-32 is a Soviet-origin military transport aircraft that has been in service with IAF since 1984. The aircraft can fly for up to four hours without refuelling. The air force has a fleet of around 100 AN-32s. The planes have been upgraded and modernised with advanced avionics, communications systems, landing aids, and better seats.

The one that crashed in the Bay of Bengal was overhauled and upgraded at the IAF’s 1 Base Repair Depot in Kanpur in September 2015. It had flown 279 hours after being upgraded.

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