Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar is likely to visit Tambaram air base near Chennai todayy after an AN 32 aircraft of the Indian Air Force went missing with 29 personnel on board.
The flight, which has 29 passengers on board, took off from Tambaram in Chennai at 8 am on Friday, and was expected to land in Port Blair around 11.30 am. But it went missing.
The IAF and the Indian Navy (IN) have deployed aircraft and warships to try and locate the twin-engine AN-32. These comprise four IN reconnaissance aircraft – two Boeing P-8I Neptune long-range maritime patrol aircraft and two Dornier 228s – a submarine and 12 naval surface vessels, including corvettes, destroyers and a fleet tanker.
The IAF had despatched one Lockheed Martin C-130J-30 and one An-32 transport aircraft for the search and rescue (SAR) mission.
Meanwhile, according to reports, the ill-fated AN-32, which went missing with 29 personnel on board over the Bay of Bengal on Friday, had suffered from three technical snags earlier this month despite undergoing a life-extension, overhaul and upgrade refit just as recently as September last year.
Officials, however, contended the snags were “minor in nature like a little hydraulic or pressure leak here and there”, and no aircraft was ever cleared to fly without being it declared fully airworthy.
Parrikar, who was briefed by IAF chief Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha, will get a detailed briefing on the search and rescue operations being undertaken by the Navy, Air Force and the Coast Guard.