Over seven years later, wreckage of missing IAF AN-32 traced in Bay of Bengal

The aircraft went missing in 2016 with 29 personnel on board

IAF announces Rs 5 lakh reward for information on missing AN-32 aircraft Representational Image | PTI

The wreckage of a transport aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF) has been located at the depth of around 3.4 km in the Bay of Bengal, nearly seven-and-a-half years after the plane with 29 personnel on board went missing.

The defence ministry said a scrutiny of the images captured by an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) deployed by the National Institute of Ocean Technology recently found to be conforming that the wreckage located 310 km off the Chennai coast is of an An-32 aircraft.

"The search images were scrutinised and found to be conforming with an An-32 aircraft. This discovery at the probable crash site, with no other recorded history of any other missing aircraft report in the same area, points to the debris as possibly belonging to the crashed IAF An-32," the ministry said in a statement.

The An-32 aircraft with registration number K-2743 of the IAF had gone missing over the Bay of Bengal on July 22, 2016 during a mission.

Twenty-nine personnel were on board the aircraft.

Large-scale search-and-rescue operations involving aircraft and ships could not locate any missing personnel or the wreckage of the plane since it went missing.

The National Institute of Ocean Technology, which functions under the aegis of the Ministry of Earth Sciences, had recently deployed an AUV with deep-sea exploration capability at the last known location of the missing An-32 aircraft.

"This search was conducted at a depth of 3,400 metres using multiple payloads, including a multi-beam SONAR (Sound Navigation and Ranging), synthetic aperture SONAR and high-resolution photography," the defence ministry said.

"Analysis of search images had indicated the presence of debris of a crashed aircraft on the sea bed approximately 140 nautical miles (3.10 km) from the Chennai coast," it said.


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