Missing AN32 aircraft wreckage located in Arunachal

Antonov An 32 – The News Mill
Representative image: Wikipedia

A search team on June 11 located the wreckage of the AN-32 aircraft of the Indian Air Force which went missing on June 3 after getting airborne from Air Force Station, Jorhat Assam.

The wreckage of the aircraft was spotted 16 Kms North of Lipo, North East of Tato at an approximate elevation of 12000 ft by the IAF Mi-17 Helicopter undertaking search in the expanded search zone.
Efforts are now continuing to establish the status of occupants and establish survivors. Further details will be communicated as the recovery actions progress.

The aircraft with 13 IAF personnel went missing about 35 minutes after taking off from Jorhat at 12.27 pm on June 3. It was heading for the IAF maintained Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground in Shi Yomi district of Arunachal Pradesh, some 29km from the India-China border.

The MI 17 Helicopters, Advanced Light Helicopters (ALH), Cheetah Helicopters and P8i long-range reconnaissance aircraft of the Indian Navy were airborne for SAR on June 11. The C130 Hercules was also ready for operation. Already Sukhoi Su-30 and Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) have also been used.

It made last contact with ground forces at the air traffic control (ATC) tower in Jorhat at 1 pm (June 3) to report its mandatory communication before disappearing.

The IAF had also announced a cash reward of Rs 5 lakh if someone can provide credible information in leading to find the aircraft.

ISRO’s Cartosat and RISAT satellites are taking images of the area. Ground parties of Indian Army and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP), as well as locals and district administration officials are also searching the area.

But the SAR hasn’t been an easy one with the frequently changing weather and hills covered by the thick forests. The SAR has been halted by the poor light, low-range clouds and other reasons.

The sky of Arunachal Pradesh has always troubled the aircrafts since the World War II. At least eight Army Air Corps members of the US went down in a B-24J aircraft in Arunachal Pradesh during the World War II. The wreckages of the aircraft were recovered recently.

Apart from that in the recent time also several Indian aircrafts were crashed and rescue operations took long time.

Former Deputy Chief of the Army Staff Subrata Saha said that the weather pattern of the region can be very challenging.

Some of the major aircraft crashes in Arunachal

In May 2001, then education minister Dera Natung and five others were killed when their chopper crashed near Tawang because of poor visibility.

In June 2009, an An-32 crashed soon after it took off from Mechuka, killing all 13 persons on board. The wreckage was found near Mechuka ALG after 24 hours.

In April 2011, a Pawan Hans chopper caught fire near Tawang, killing 16 people onboard.

In the same month on April 30, 2011 then Arunachal Pradesh chief minister Dorjee Khandu, two pilots and a co-passenger died after their Pawan Hans operated chopper crashed between Kyela and Lubuthang near Tawang district. The wreckage was found on May 4, 2011.

In August, 2015, bodies of Tirap Deputy Commissioner Kamlesh Kumar Joshi and two other pilots were recovered after eight days after their chopper operated by Pawan Hans was crashed in Tirap. Highly trained commandos from High Altitude Warfare School (HAWS) were airdropped in this operation apart from massive search in the sky.

On July 4, 2017 an IAF Advanced Light Helicopter which was engaged in rescue and relief operation during flood and rain crashed at Sagalee, in Papum Pare district, killing all four on board.

And in October 2017, five IAF crew members and two army officers were killed after an IAF Mi-17 V5 helicopter, on an air maintenance mission, crashed near Tawang.

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