R&AW plane joins AN-32 search ops
An aircraft belonging to the Aviation Research Centre, air surveillance division of the Research and Analysis Wing (R&AW), India’s external intelligence agency, has joined the search efforts to locate the Soviet-era Antonov-32 transport plane that went missing with 13 men onboard in Arunachal Pradesh on June 3, said two officials requesting anonymity on Friday.
The ARC’s Global 5000 surveillance jet is part of more than half a dozen other planes involved in the search effort that yielded no results for the fifth straight day, said one of the officials cited above. Manufactured by Canadian plane maker Bombardier, the aircraft is equipped with advanced Israeli sensors, including electro-optical/infrared sensor, and a synthetic aperture radar for surveillance.
Sensors belonging to the technical intelligence gathering agency, the National Technical Research Organisation (NTRO), are also a part of the ongoing search, the second official said. Sukhoi-30s, Mi-17 choppers, advanced light helicopters, C-130Js, the navy’s P-81, army unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) and Cheetah choppers have been involved in the massive search.
The AN-32 had taken off from Jorhat in Assam and was on its way to an advanced landing ground at Mechuka in Arunachal Pradesh’s West Siang district when it vanished from the radar. Mechuka is about 15 km from the Line of Actual Control, the disputed border with China.
“P-8I undertook a search mission…The helicopters, transport aircraft, UAVs and other sensors are involved in extensive search and rescue whenever weather is permitting. The search area continues to expand to look at all possibilities. All electronic, radar, optical and infrared sensors including satellites are being employed to scan the area for any probable clues,” an Indian Air Force spokesperson said.
He added that army search parties have been in the area for over two days, going through thick forest trying to locate the aircraft.
IAF officials said that the AN-32 is equipped with an emergency locator transmitter (ELT), an emergency beacon in the cargo section that can broadcast distress signals to reveal the location of an aircraft. No signal from the ELT has been detected yet.