An Indian Air Force (IAF) An-32 tactical transport aircraft, with 13 people on board, went missing after taking off from the Jorhat Air Force Station in Assam, on Monday, June 3.
According to local reports, the aircraft was flying to the Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground in Arunachal Pradesh when it lost contact with the ground around 35 minutes into the flight. Mechuka ALG is near India’s border with China.
According to official sources, a total of eight crew and five passengers – all IAF personnel – were on board the aircraft. The aircraft got airborne at around 12:25 PM and lost all contacts with ground staff at around 1 PM, officials were cited in local reports.
Rajnath Singh, who recently sworn in as India’s Minister of Defence, said in a Twitter statement that he was apprised Air Marshal Rakesh Singh Bhadauria, the Vice Chief of the Air Staff, regarding the incident.
Spoke to Vice Chief of @IAF_MCC, Air Marshal Rakesh Singh Bhadauria regarding the missing IAF AN-32 Aircraft which is overdue for some hours.
He has apprised me of the steps taken by the IAF to find the missing aircraft. I pray for the safety of all passengers on board.
— Rajnath Singh (@rajnathsingh) June 3, 2019
The Air Force has scrambled a Su-30 fighter aircraft and a C-130J Super Hercules special operations transport aircraft for a search mission to locate the missing aircraft. Several helicopters, personnel from Indian Army and Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) and local civic officials for Arunachal Pradesh have also joined the search operation.
In July 2016, an An-32 had gone missing over the Bay of Bengal after taking off from Tambaram Air Force Station in Chennai to Port Blair, the capital of Andaman and Nicobar Islands, with 29 people on board. The aircraft is yet to be located and the cause of the incident is also not known.