New Delhi: Indian Air force chief, Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha on Monday said it is “unfortunate” that the missing AN-32 aircraft has not been traced so far, describing it as a “very difficult moment”.
Raha called the event a “painful reminder” of the inherent risks personnel face in the execution of their daily missions.
He added that a thorough inquiry will be conducted to ascertain exactly what led to the event.
“It is very unfortunate that we 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,” Raha said in a statement.
“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 said.
The AN-32 aircraft of the Indian Air Force was on a scheduled courier sortie from Tambaram in Chennai to Port Blair in the Andamans. The aircraft departed Tambaram at 8.30 a.m. on Friday with six crew and 23 personnel. It was due to land at Port Blair at 11.30 a.m.
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.
“Events like these are painful reminders of the inherent risks which our brave personnel face in the execution of our daily missions,” the air force chief said.
“A thorough inquiry 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,” he said.
“Our prayers and thoughts are there with the missing personnel and their families, and no effort will be spared to locate them,” Raha said.
AN-32 transport aircraft was inducted into the Indian Air Force between 1984-1991.
The IAF chief said in the last three decades of its operations, the IAF has exploited the capabilities of this aircraft as the “workhorse”.
“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.