IAF aircraft with 13 on board goes missing after take off from Assam
An AN-32 aircraft of the Indian Air Force with 13 people onboard has gone missing after taking off from Jorhat in Assam.
The aircraft was headed to Mechuka Advance Landing Ground, the landing strip in the eastern Himalayas of Arunachal Pradesh’s West Siang district. The landing strip is about 30-odd km from the nearest point on the India-China border.
The transport aircraft took off from Jorhat at 12.25 pm.
It was in contact with ground agencies for the next 35 minutes. An Indian Air Force official said there had been no contact after 1 pm.
“Since the aircraft did not reach the airfield, overdue action was initiated by IAF,” the official said, adding that all available resources had been deployed to locate the aircraft.
News agency ANI said Sukhoi-30 combat aircraft and C-130 Special Ops aircraft had also been deployed on a search mission to locate the IAF aircraft. One official said ground troops had spotted some fire and smoke but there was no official confirmation from the IAF.
A total of eight crew and five passengers were onboard the aircraft.
Defence minister Rajnath Singh who was visiting Siachen tweeted his concern over the missing aircraft.
The AN-32s joined the IAF in 1983 and continue to remain in service. The air force has a fleet of more than 100 AN-32s.
Monday’s missing aircraft revived memories of the AN-32 that went missing while flying from Chennai to Port Blair in July 2016.
A massive search mission had been launched to find the 29 people on the transport plane. The IAF had then carried out 200 search sorties to cover over 2 lakh square nautical miles multiple times by these aircraft. The IAF court of inquiry later concluded that it was unlikely that the missing personnel on board the aircraft survived the accident.