Guwahati / New Delhi: An Indian Air Force transport aircraft that took off from Assam’s Air Base earlier on Monday with eight crew members and five passengers on board has gone missing, and is feared to have crashed.
Air Force sources in Shillong said they had launched a massive search operation and pressed in to two aircraft as well as to locate Antonov AN-32, which lost contact with the ground at about 1 pm. The IAF plane was flying to a landing strip in Mechuka Valley near the international border with China.
The sources said the AN-32 military transport aircraft had 13 people on board, including eight crew members and five passengers.
The plane lost contact around 35 minutes after taking off. The Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground is one of the many rudimentary landing strips operated by the Air Force near the Line of Actual Control with China.
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It is significant that the terrain along the flight path to Mechuka is mountainous and heavily forested. In fact, the landing and takeoff approaches to Mechuka are also extremely difficult. The erratic weather condition makes the region one of the most challenging destinations for air transport.
The AN-32 is a Soviet-designed twin-engine turboprop transport aircraft used extensively by the Indian Air Force for over two decades.
In New Delhi, the IAF deployed all available resources to locate the aircraft. A C-130, another AN-32 aircraft, two Mi-17s of the IAF and the Army’s ALH helicopters were deployed to locate the aircraft.
“The IAF is coordinating with the Army and various government and civil agencies to locate the missing aircraft. The search operations from the air and by ground parties of the Indian Army are planned to continue through the night, “the IAF said.
Air Force An-32 transport plane missing after taking off from Assam, search ops to continue overnight
Defense minister Rajnath Singh was in touch with IAF officials. “Spoke to Vice Chief of @IAF_MCC, Air Marshal Rakesh Singh Bhadauria regarding the missing IAF AN-32 Aircraft which is overdue for some hours. You have apprised me of the steps taken by the IAF to find the missing aircraft, “Mr Singh sai.