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No concrete evidence emerged with respect to IAF AN-32 that went missing in 2016: Government

In a written reply to a query in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik said, "A massive search operation -- 'Op Talash' -- was launched for search of the missing aircraft." "However, no concrete evidence with respect to missing IAF AN-32 had emerged." The Russian-origin plane with 29 people on board had gone missing in June, 2016.

PTI|
Nov 28, 2019, 11.02 AM IST
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IAF AN 32
Indian Air Force (IAF) officials examine an AN-32 transport aircraft after it overshot the runway during its landing at the Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International airport in Mumbai on Wednesday May 8, 2019. (Representative image)
NEW DELHI: An AN-32 aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF), which had disappeared over the Bay of Bengal in 2016, remains untraceable, the government said on Wednesday.

In a written reply to a query in the Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Defence Shripad Naik said, "A massive search operation -- 'Op Talash' -- was launched for search of the missing aircraft."

"However, no concrete evidence with respect to missing IAF AN-32 had emerged," he added.

The Russian-origin plane with 29 people on board, including six crew members, had gone missing in June, 2016 while flying from Chennai to Port Blair.

In response to another question, Naik said, "In the past 10 years, a total of nine aircraft have gone missing worldwide, including six aircraft overseas. The cause of the accidents of any of these flights could not be ascertained due to lack of any evidence."

Naik said a total of 18 Indian Naval ships, one submarine and eight Indian Coast Guard ships were deployed for the search of the AN-32 aircraft that went missing three years ago.

"A total of 301 ship days of search were undertaken by these ships. In addition, 14 Indian Navy (IN) aircraft, six Indian Coast Guard aircraft and 10 IAF aircraft were employed for the search, wherein 290 sorties were flown, totalling approximately 1280 flying hours," the minister said.

A Geological Survey of India (GDI) vessel was also deployed to undertake "sub-bottom profiling" in the area and a National Institute of Oceanography and Technology (NIOT) vessel was deployed to carry out sea bed search, using a remotely operated vehicle to a depth of 3,000 metres, he added.

"National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), Hyderabad was requested for high-resolution satellite image of area around datum. Indigenous satellites with higher resolution were also used for satellite imagery. However, no concrete evidence with respect to missing IAF AN-32 aircraft had emerged," the minister said.

Antonov AN-32 is a twin-engined military transport aircraft that can fly for up to four hours without refuelling.

On a question on the steps being taken to avert such happenings in the future, Naik said, "All transport aircraft and helicopters of IAF undertaking maritime operations over Andaman and Nicobar area of Bay of Bengal have now been equipped with Underwater Locating Beacon (ULB)."
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