Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa said only when new transport aircraft are inducted will the IAF redeploy the AN-32s for training and other purposes

GWALIOR: The Indian Air Force will continue flying the AN-32 transport aircraft in the mountains for now because there is no other alternative, Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa said Monday.

Dhanoa was speaking at an event to commemorate 20 years of the Kargil conflict. His statement comes weeks after the AN-32 crash in Arunachal Pradesh that killed 13 IAF personnel on board.

The wreckage of the aircraft and the bodies of the personnel were recovered after nine days of search and rescue efforts by the IAF, as well as ground searches by the Army.

“We don’t have a choice,” Dhanoa said.

He added that only when new transport aircraft are inducted, they will be deployed to fly over mountains while AN-32s will be used for training and other purposes.
Backbone of IAF’s transport fleet 

The AN-32 is the IAF’s workhorse that forms the backbone of its transport fleet. Out of over 100 AN-32s in its fleet, only around 55 aircraft have been upgraded, but none of them have been deployed in the Northeast, which is known for its difficult, mountainous terrain.

Recently, Hindustan Times had reported that the IAF was planning to curtail the role of the aircraft in extreme environments.

Such roles, the report said, would be assigned to the C295 medium transport aircraft once they are bought and inducted into the IAF fleet. The C295 is slated to replace the ageing fleet of the medium sized Avro-748 transport aircraft.