The Indian Air Force (IAF) has intensified and expanded search operations for the AN-32 aircraft which went missing on June 3, despite extreme weather and an unfavourable terrain posing a challenge.
Taking to Twitter, the IAF briefed about the search operation saying, “#IAF has further intensified and expanded search for the missing An32. Fighter aircraft, C130, Helicopters, aircraft carrying specialised sensors, satellites and all possible civil, police and local administrative agencies have further expanded search based on human and sensor inputs.”
The Air Force assured that no effort is being spared to locate the missing aircraft with 13 of its personnel on board.
“P8I, aircraft of #IndianNavy will again fly a sortie tomorrow morning as the weather is likely to improve slightly. Search parties have set out on foot in likely directions to locate the aircraft and its occupants,” it added.
The search parties, the IAF said, have been encountering thick forests as they tirelessly search every part of a very difficult terrain. The search by parties on foot and night capable aircraft will continue through the night and data from satellites is being analysed regularly, it mentioned.
“Weather continues to pose a challenge, however IAF remains committed to continued efforts to locate the aircraft and it’s brave air warriors. IAF has flown more than 100 hours in search operations,” IAF said in another tweet.
The Indian Army on Thursday deployed unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) to search for the transport aircraft, as the search operations for the plane, which went missing over Arunachal Pradesh, entered the fourth day.
“Unmanned aerial vehicles were also deployed today along with the C-130Js and helicopters but so far, we have not able to locate anything. The search operations will continue through the night,” a Defence spokesperson said.
The IAF had also said in a tweet that Cheetah choppers have been deployed in the search operations.
“#IAF Missing AN-32 search continues. The area of search has been expanded and more assets including smaller and more manoeuvrable helicopters like Cheetah have been included in the rescue mission so as to approach areas inaccessible by bigger helicopters or individuals on foot,” the IAF tweeted.
“Search by IAF and #IndianArmy helicopters was adversely affected by localised weather in the valleys. All leads from airborne sensors including by #IndianNavy being closely assessed and followed-up with search by aircraft and ground teams. The search will continue through the night,” read another tweet.
While bad weather conditions on Wednesday had put a halt to the search operations by helicopters, two Sukhoi-30 MKI combat jets and one C 130J aircraft carried out night missions to locate the plane.
The AN-32 aircraft had taken off from Assam’s Jorhat on June 3 and was headed for Mechuka Advance Landing Ground (ALG) in Arunachal Pradesh when it lost contact with ground authorities at around 1300 hours.
Su-30MKI jets, C-130J special operations aircraft, several choppers along with ground troops were deployed to locate the plane. ISRO satellites and Indian Navy’s P-8I aircraft have also been pressed into action.