15:40 GMT17 April 2021
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    Inclement weather over the Bay of Bengal posed a major difficulty in the search for a missing Indian An-32 jet. Nineteen warships, 17 aircraft and a submarine are engaged in the mission.

    New Delhi (Sputnik) — Search operations for a missing Indian An-32 jet is in full swing for the second day amid bad weather. Indian Minister of Defense Manohar Parrikar reviewed the situation on ground as well as while flying over the area of operations in a P8 Long Range Maritime Patrol Aircraft and ensured that no stone would be left unturned in the search for the missing jet in the Bay of Bengal.

    In a statement the Ministry of Defense said, "Raksha Mantri (Defense Minister) directed that if need arises more resources be diverted for the Search and Rescue operations. He was apprised of the difficult condition under which the operations are being undertaken in the last 24 hours. The state of the sea is 3 to 4 and is very choppy with thick monsoon clouds in the area making the search effort quite challenging. Raksha Mantri has directed that the operations be continued unhindered till further orders."

    ​India Air Force has deployed two C-130 aircraft equipped with electro-optical and infrared sensors. An Indian Navy P8I aircraft equipped with a synthetic aperture radar along with Dornier aircraft are also taking part in this operation. The Indian Navy has deployed 13 ships and is being assisted by six ships of the Indian Coast Guard and merchant vessels in the area, as well as one submarine.

    Wing Commander Anupam Banerjee, Press Relation Officer for the Indian Air Force said that the biggest challenge is bad weather and low visibility. Sources say that depth of the sea in search area is around 3000 meters. The speed of the wind in search area is 18-20 knots while visibility is 3-4 nautical miles.

    Naval Commander Abhijeet Singh (Retired), said, the "Bay of Bengal is totally different from the Arabian Sea. The gradient is very steep. As soon as we enter the coastline, the gradient starts deepening which goes up to 2,000 to 3000 meters. Given the current weather pattern, the sea surface is also very rough. Therefore, the fleet of ships that have been deployed there are facing immense difficulty in searching for the missing aircraft."

    "The black-box has a pinging device that creates vibration. All the ships deployed there have magnetic anomaly detectors that will detect vibrations from the pinging device. All the ships and aircrafts on search mission are trying to detect this signal. But it is not going to be easy as the signal strength reduces with depth. We have also deployed a submarine that has sonar. They also have receivers to detect signals. But it is a difficult mission," he added.

    ​The An-32 jet belonged to the 33rd Indian Air Force Squadron and went missing in the morning of July 22 during a scheduled courier sortie from Tambaram (Chennai) to Port Blair. The aircraft departed from Tambaram at 0830 (Indian Standard Time) with 6 crew members and 23 passengers.

    The aircraft was scheduled to arrive at Port Blair at 1145. The aircraft did not make any contact with air traffic controller of Port Blair and an overdue action was initiated. The last radar contact marked by Chennai air traffic radar was 151 nautical miles east of Chennai at n altitude of 23000 ft. 

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    Tags:
    AN-32 military transport aircraft, Raksha Mantri, India
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