IAF chief says through probe to be conducted on missing AN-32

New Delhi, July 25 : Stating that an extensive search operation has been launched to locate the missing aircraft AN-32, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha on Monday said the family members of those on board, adding that a thorough investigation would be conducted to ascertain what actually led to the unfortunate event.

"Events like these are painful reminders of the inherent risks which our brave personnel face in the execution of our daily missions.

A thorough enquiry will be conducted to ascertain exactly what led to this unfortunate event. The IAF remains committed to provide the best possible equipment and training to our personnel so that they can execute their assigned missions professionally," Raha said in a statement.

He said an extensive operation have been launched to search for the missing aircraft and personnel. "Several aircraft with surveillance equipment of the IAF, Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard have been flying in the area.

A large number of ships of the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard, some with helicopters on board have also joined the search," he added.

Air Chief Marshal Raha said it was very unfortunate that they have not been able to trace the missing aircraft and the personnel on board.

"It is a very difficult moment for all of us and we share the concerns of the distraught family members.

IAF authorities are in constant touch with the family members of the missing personnel and they are being regularly updated about the efforts being made to trace the missing aircraft and personnel," he added.

Air Chief Marshal Raha also expressed his prayers with the missing personnel and their families, adding that no effort would be spared to locate them.

He said the AN-32 aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) was on a scheduled courier sortie from Tambaram, Chennai, to Port Blair and it departed Tambaram at 8:30 a.m.

on July 22 with six crew members and 23 personnel on board. "Radar contact with the aircraft was lost when the aircraft was east of Chennai at an approximate distance of 270 km.

Since then there has been no contact with the aircraft.AN-32 transport aircraft was inducted into the IAF between 1984 to 1991," he added.

Air Chief Marshal Raha further said that in the last three decades of its operations, they have exploited the capabilities of the aircraft as the workhorse of the IAF.

"Because of its excellent operational performance, AN-32 has been landing at Daulat Beg Oldie, which is the highest landing ground in the world.

Needless to say that capable aircrew are chosen to fly these aircraft," he added. The Indian Coast Guard (ICG) earlier today said the search operation for the missing aircraft AN-32 is still on, adding that there have been no signs of debris or survivors.

Chief of Naval Staff, Admiral Sunil Lanba, earlier today said in New Delhi that all the family members of the 29 people onboard the aircraft have been kept in loop regarding the operations, asserting that the search was ongoing.

The Admiral further said that they have received image inputs from satellite images plus also the sensors of the aircraft, adding that all leads have been followed.

Meanwhile, the search operation for the missing aircraft, code named "Operation Talash," continues for the fourth day today in the Bay of Bengal.

An international safety network has been activated to alert the merchant ships passing by the zone of search operation to look out for any survivors or the debris.

The Andaman and Nicobar Command of the defence forces are keeping a watch for it even beyond the search zone.

As part of the procedure, a formal complaint about the missing aircraft has been registered with the Selaiyur police station in Chennai by the Air Force authorities.

India's largest ever search operation over the sea to trace the missing twin-engined AN32 aircraft is getting imageries of the search area from the ISRO through its radar imaging satellite RISAT.

The Indian Mission Control Centre of the space agency responsible for Satellite Aided Search and Rescue in the region is supplementing the Operation Talash by offering its services.

However, no clues on the whereabouts of the aircraft are yet known and the sharp look out continue unabated.