100 hours on, IAF intensifies search ops to trace missing AN-32 aircraft
The Indian Air Force (IAF) on Thursday said it hasintensified the search operation to trace the AN-32 aircraft that has gonemissing in Arunachal Pradesh after taking off from Assam's Jorhat, and hasdeployed more assets and roped in the local civic and police agencies in itseffort.
The Russian-made aircraft took off from Jorhat at 12.27 pmon Monday for the Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground. Its last contact with theground control was at 1 pm.
A total of eight aircrew and five passengers were on boardthe aircraft.
All the three armed forces have deployed their assets totrace the aircraft.
However, the search-and-rescue (SAR) operation has met withlittle success so far due to the difficult terrain and rough weather.
According to sources, the rescuers have not received anysignal from the emergency locator beacon in the missing plane and there is apossibility that the device may not have been functional.
They said the IAF had deployed four Mi-17 helicopters, threeadvanced light helicopters, of which two belonged to the Army, two Sukhoi-30aircraft, one C-130 transporter aircraft and one Unmanned Aerial Vehicle of theArmy.
Two Cheetah helicopters will also join the search operationson Friday, the sources said.
"The IAF has further intensified and expanded searchfor the missing AN-32. Fighter aircraft, C130, helicopters, aircraft carryingspecialised sensors, satellites and all possible civil, police and localadministrative agencies have further expanded search based on human and sensorinputs," the Air Force said in a statement.
"The search by parties on foot and night-capableaircraft will continue through the night and satellite data is being analysedregularly," it added.
The Indian Navy's P-8i aircraft was deployed on Tuesday asit had electro-optical and infra-red sensors, which could be helpful in thesearch operation.
"P-8i, aircraft of Indian Navy will again fly a sortietomorrow (Friday) morning as the weather is likely to improve slightly,"the statement said.
IAF officials said the Indian Space Research Organisation's(ISRO) Cartosat and RISAT satellites were capturing images of the area aroundMechuka to help the rescuers find the plane.
"The IAF remains committed to continued efforts tolocate the aircraft and its brave air warriors. The IAF has flown more than 100hours in search operations. No effort is being spared to locate the missingaircraft," the statement added.