New Delhi. 25 July 2016. Following is the statement of Air Chief Marshal Arup Raha PVSM AVSM VM ADC Chief of the Air Staff on AN-32 aircraft of Indian Air Force which went missing over the Bay of Bengal :-

“An AN-32 aircraft of the Indian Air Force was on a scheduled courier sortie from Tambaram, Chennai to Port Blair. The aircraft had departed Tambaram at 0830 AM on 22 July 2016 with 6 crew and 23 personnel.

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.

Extensive operations have been launched to search for the missing aircraft and personnel. Several aircraft with surveillance equipment of the IAF, Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard have been flying in the area. A large number of ships of the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard, some with helicopters on board have also joined the search.

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. 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.

AN-32 transport aircraft was inducted into the IAF between 1984-1991. In the last three decades of its operations we have exploited the capabilities of this aircraft as the workhorse of the IAF. 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.

Events like these are painful reminders of the inherent risks which our brave personnel face in the execution of our daily missions. A thorough enquiry 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.

Our prayers and thoughts are there with the missing personnel and their families and no effort will be spared to locate them.”