New Delhi: Indian Navy’s Long Range Maritime Reconnaissance aircraft P8i and Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) satellites were pressed into service on Tuesday to locate an Indian Air Force (IAF) AN-32 aircraft that went missing yesterday with 13 persons on board. The transport aircraft with eight crew members and five passengers had taken off from Assam’s Jorhat airbase when it lost contact with ground staff while flying over Arunachal Pradesh.

“Today P-8i aircraft of Navy also joined in search operation. Army personnel are doing ground search and joined in with ALH Helicopter. Navy joined at P-8i. Local police and administration are helping Air Force to locate the aircraft.  It is a difficult operation however we are using all our means, the electronic means, the electro-optical means. After analysing this we will do the visual lookout,” IAF spokesperson Group CaptAnupam Banerjee said.

He added,”ISRO satellites are also being used for photographing this area which will be analysed & used for further search operation. Next of kin of all the missing personnel have been informed about the search effort. We are in constant touch with them.”

Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Eastern Air Command, Air Marshal R.D. Mathur is reportedly at the Jorhat Air Force Station, monitoring the search and rescue operations. He also interacted with the families of the missing IAF personnel.

Mathur was briefed about the coordinated efforts by the Indian Army, the Indo-Tibetan Border Police and other civil agencies. The Navy aircraft departed from INS Rajali in Tamil Nadu and shall carry out the search with Electro Optical and Infra Red sensors in the thickly forested areas between Jorhat and Mechuka where the An-32 disappeared, a Navy official said.

The ISRO has pressed into service its RISAT series of radar imaging satellites to look for the missing aircraft.