New Delhi, June 5: Time was running out as bad weather, dense forest and rainfall continued to hamper the search and rescue operations to locate the missing AN-32 transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force with 13 people on board which had taken off from Jorhat in eastern Assam on Monday enroute to Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground in Arunachal Pradesh.
On Tuesday, Indian Space Research Organisation deployed CARTOSAT and RISAT satellites and the Navy pressed into service its spy aircraft, aiding the efforts to search for the aircraft in Assam-Arunachal Pradesh region.
Satellites have been deployed over parts of Arunachal Pradesh and Assam to locate the missing An-32 transport aircraft. Indian Army's one Advance Light Helicopter, IAF's 2 Mi 17 helicopters, one ALH, one transport aircraft AN-32 and one C-130J Super Hercules are conducting search operations in cloudy weather, an IAF spokesperson said.
Search operations were being conducted in the areas of Along, Payum and Tato, which is 30 kms away from Menchuka Advance Landing Ground in Arunachal Pradesh near China border. Indian Navy has also pressed into service it's long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft P8I that took off from INS Rajali in Arakonam of Tamil Nadu on Tuesday to join the search and rescue operation.
The P-8I aircraft has Synthetic Aperture Radar, Electro Optic and Infra Red modes to scan the thickly forested landscape in Arunachal Pradesh and Assam region.SAR technology provides terrain structural information to reconnaissance and targeting information to military operations.
As per the sources in the IAF, the missing aircraft has Emergency Locator Transmitter but it is activated only on impact of 20G pressure. It also needs Line of Sight for it to be detected, means search aircraft should pass over it to pick up the signals. The search operations party has a huge challenge in locating the missing aircraft by air or ground as the North-East is very thickly forested.
An ELT is a radio beacon, a battery powered radio transmitter, used to locate airplanes, vessels, and persons in distress and in need of immediate rescue.
It was not the first time that the IAF lost its transport aircraft in the same area. A decade back, in June 2009, an An-32 crashed near Tato village in Arunachal Pradesh while it was on a routine sortie involving 13 personnel. Seven personnel were from the IAF and the rest from the Army. In July 2016, a transport aircraft went missing when it was on a routine weekly courier flight from Chennai to Port Blair, carrying 23 personnel and six crew. So far, it has not been traced. (UNI)