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IAF aircraft missing with 13 onboard


JORHAT, June 3 - An Indian Air Force transport aircraft has gone missing some half an hour after taking off from Jorhat IAF Station at Rowriah here at 12:25 pm today for Mechuka ALD (advanced landing ground) in Mechuka valley, Arunachal Pradesh.

According to defence sources, the last contact with the Antonov AN-32 military transport aircraft was at around 1 pm. The plane lost contact around 35 minutes after taking off, the sources said.

Thirteen people were onboard the plane, including eight crew members. The Indian Air Force has deployed all available resources to locate the aircraft, the sources said.

Personnel from the Army and ITBP were carrying on search operations on the ground, while C130 Hercules special operations aircraft and SU-30 planes were pressed into service to locate the missing aircraft, the sources said, adding, some ground reports were received on possible location of a crash site.

�Helicopters were routed to the location, but no wreckage has been sighted so far,� the sources said, adding, the IAF is coordinating with the Indian Army as well as various government and civil agencies to locate the missing aircraft.

The search operations from air and by ground parties of the Indian Army are being planned to continue through the night, the sources added.

The An-32 is a Russian-designed twin engine turboprop transport aircraft used extensively by the IAF for over four decades. The medium transporter is the workhorse of the IAF, which operates around 105 of them. They are in the process of being upgraded to extend their service life, the sources informed.

In 2009, India finalised a major upgrade and life extension plan for the entire fleet under a $400 million deal with Ukraine that would extend their life to 40 years. So far, 46 aircraft have been upgraded � 40 in Ukraine and the rest six are being upgraded in India, the sources added.

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