The P8i was used to locate the missing Malaysia Airlines MH 370

Even 24 hours after search and rescue operations were launched for the missing Indian Air Force's An-32 aircraft carrying 13 people, there was no sign of success. On Tuesday, Indian Space Research Organisation's (ISRO) satellites and the Navy's surveillance aircraft were pressed into service as well. "The Navy has sent its long-range Maritime Reconnaissance aircraft, the P8i, to look for the missing plane and ISRO's RISAT (Radar Imaging Satellite) has also been roped in," said a senior Air Force officer.

The IAF's transport aircraft went missing on Monday, after taking off from Assam's Jorhat for Mechuka Advanced Landing Ground in Arunachal Pradesh. The last contact with the plane — an Antonov An-32 military transport aircraft — was at around 1 pm on Monday. Eight crew members and five passengers were on board.

After it lost communication on Monday, the IAF deployed a Sukhoi-30, a C-130 Special Operations aircraft, another An-32, two Mi-17 choppers and the Army's ALH chopper to locate the An-32.

The P8i took off from INS Rajali at Arakonam, Tamil Nadu at 1 pm and headed to the thickly forested area. It possesses strong Electro optical and Infra Red sensors. "The P8i aircraft has a very powerful Synthetic Aperture Radar which shall be utilised during the SAR sweeps to locate the missing @IAF_MCC #AN32," tweeted Navy spokesperson Capt. D K Sharma.

"ISRO's CARTOSAT and RISAT satellites are also taking images of the area," an IAF official said, "The helicopters stopped their search operations post sunset. Search by all sensors with night capability and by the ground party will continue throughout the night." All possible assistance is being provided by the Army, Navy, Police and state administration.

The missing aircraft had Sarbe-8 ELT (Search and Rescue Beacon) equipment and is capable of sending distress frequencies, but the IAF has not reported receiving any Save Our Souls (SOS) messages. It said that the weather in the region, and possibly along the flight path, was turbulent on Monday. "The families of all the air-warriors on board the aircraft have been informed and are being regularly updated on the progress of search mission," the IAF said.

Search Ops

  • Navy has deployed a long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft, the P8i
  • The P8i aircraft will carry out search operation with Electro optical and Infra Red sensors
  • A fleet of fixed-wing aircraft and choppers have also been deployed by IAF
  • Army has pressed into service advance light helicopters to locate the missing aircraft