Over twelve hours after the Indian Air Force’s AN-32 transport plane with 13 people onboard went missing near China border, it has still not been located. C-130J and the ground patrols of the Indian Army are still carrying out the search and rescue operations.
The aircraft had gone missing after it got airborne from Jorhat in Assam at around 1225 hrs for Menchuka Advance Landing Ground in Arunachal Pradesh. It was reportedly carrying 13 people on board. No signs of wreckage have been reported yet.
The Menchuka Landing field is located near the China border in Arunachal Pradesh. Out of the 13 members on board, 8 are crew members while 5 are passengers. AN-32 is described as IAF’s workhorse with a maximum cruise speed of 530km/hr and capacity of carrying 39 paratroopers and 5 crew members. It is a medium tactical transport aircraft of Russian origin with a twin-engine turboprop.
The Airforce had launched a search operation and Sukhoi-30 combat jet and C-130 Special Ops aircraft were deployed for locating the disappeared IAF AN-32 Aircraft. According to the reports, the aircraft last contacted ground control at 1 PM, after which there has been no communication with the aircraft.
A similar case of IAF AN-32 disappearance had occurred in July 2016. The transport aircraft carrying 29 people on board had mysteriously disappeared after it took off from the Chennai air base and was heading towards Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Radar contact with the plane was lost after an hour after the aircraft took off. Indian Airforce launched a widescale search operation over the sea to locate the disappeared aircraft but it was never found. The search operations were called off in September 2016.
The Antonov An-32 is a twin-engined turboprop military transport aircraft, manufactured by the Soviet era Antonov, which is currently based at Ukraine. India was its launch customer and 125 planes were purchased by the country, out of which around 105 are still in service. The planes were upgraded few years ago, extending its service life.