An Indian Air Force An-32 transport plane carrying 13 personnel went missing after taking off from Assam today.
The aircraft is a transport aircraft which went missing over Arunachal Pradesh. It got airborne from Jorhat in Assam at 1227 hrs for the Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) in Arunachal Pradesh.
The aircraft had eight crew and five others onboard. Massive efforts were on to establish its whereabouts. The IAF has deployed C-130J and An-32 and Mi-17 helicopters to locate the aircraft while the Army has pressed in an Advanced Light Helicopter (ALH).
Defence Minister Rajnath Singh spoke to Vice Chief of the Air Staff Air Marshal RS Bhadauria. “He has apprised me of the steps taken to find the missing aircraft. I pray for the safety of all passengers on board,” Mr. Singh said in a tweet
The IAF is coordinating with the Army, various government and civil agencies to locate the aircraft. “Search operations will continue from air and by ground parties of the Army through the night,” the IAF said.
Medium transporter An-32 is the workhorse of the IAF and it operates around 105 of them. They are in the process of being upgraded.
In 2009, India finalised a plan for a major upgrade and life extension plan of up to 40 years for the entire fleet of An-32 under a $400 million deal with Ukraine. So far, 46 aircraft have been upgraded and of them, 40 were done in Ukraine. The rest are being upgraded in India.
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Earlier, in June 2009, an An-32 on a routine sortie with 13 personnel crashed near Tato village close to the Mechuka ALG. Seven personnel were from the IAF and the remaining from the Army.
In another incident, in July 2016, an An-32 on a routine weekly courier flight from Chennai to Port Blair with 23 personnel and six crew went missing after take-off. So far, it has not been traced.