India conducts search and rescue for missing military aircraft

India conduced a massive search and rescue operation for an Indian air force (IAF) plane that went missing with 29 people on board over the Bay of Bengal yesterday (July 22).

The Antonov-32 transporter aircraft took off from Chennai (Madras) at 8:30am local time (10:00am S’pore), heading to Port Blair in the eastern archipelago of Andaman and Nicobar and never arrived.

On Friday (July 22), five surveillance aircraft and 13 navy and coastguard ships began searching for the plane, which vanished shortly after takeoff from the southern city of Chennai.

The last contact was made about 15 minutes after takeoff from Tambaram air force station on the outskirts of Chennai, an IAF spokesman said.

An IAF source said radar data from the missing aircraft showed it making a sharp left turn before rapidly losing altitude.

The Russian-built Antonov AN-32 military transport plane was carrying service personnel and six crew members as it undertook a routine courier service to the Indian islands.

AN-32s are the IAF’s workhorse aircraft and are capable of flying for up to four hours without refuelling.

In one of the worst disasters involving an AN-32 in India, 20 people on board died and three civilians were burned to death when a plane crashed near a Delhi airport in 1999.