Missing AN-32’s wreckage located by IAF copter

The AN-32 plane that went missing in Arunachal Pradesh.

The AN-32 plane that went missing in Arunachal Pradesh.   | Photo Credit:

The wreckage of the AN-32 transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) that went missing with 13 personnel over Arunachal Pradesh on June 3 was located on Tuesday.

“The wreckage of the aircraft was spotted today 16 km north of Lipo, northeast of Tato at an approximate elevation of 12,000 feet by an IAF Mi-17 helicopter undertaking search in the expanded search zone,” the IAF said in a statement. Efforts were on to establish the status of the occupants, it added.

The AN-32 got airborne from Jorhat in Assam at 12.27 p.m. on June 3 for the Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground (ALG) in Arunachal Pradesh but lost contact around 1.00 p.m.

Several aircraft, helicopters and ground teams were deployed in the Search And Rescue (SAR) mission to locate the missing plane. The IAF deployed SU-30 fighter aircraft, one C-130J transport aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH) and Mi-17 helicopters. The Navy put in use a P-8I long range maritime surveillance aircraft. The Army too pressed in one ALH and ground teams. Locals were roped as they had knowledge of the terrain. Satellites were also utilised in identifying probable locations for search.

During the search, aircraft were assigned different paths based on the coordinates within the search area. The search aircraft, equipped with Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR), also scan through Infra-Red (IR) and Electro Optic modes. They identify heat signatures and do terrain mapping to identify possible differences. Once a possible lead is identified, helicopter and ground teams are sent in to verify it.

However, the terrain posed the biggest challenge — the Northeast has dense forests and thick foliage, coupled with high altitude. Unpredictable weather and rains further hampered the operations, affecting flight movement and dampening IR signatures.

All AN-32s have Flight Data Recorders (FDR) or black boxes that, once recovered and analysed, would provide critical details of what went wrong with the aircraft and how it crashed.

One of the worst year for IAF

This year has been one of the worst for the IAF with nine accidents in which 10 aircraft crashed and many personnel lost their lives.

The AN-32s are the workhorses of the IAF, and about 100 of them are in service. They are four decades old but are rugged and dependable, according to some officers. A major upgrade process is on to extend their service life. The aircraft that went down was not an upgraded one. 

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Printable version | Aug 8, 2020 12:13:01 PM |

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