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Satellites provide pointers, but no signs of Indian Air Force aircraft yet

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IAF AN-32 maximum speed is 530Kmph. Image Source: Indian Express
  • The missing aircraft, an upgraded AN-32 belonging to 33 Squadron, took off from Tambaram Air Force Station in Chennai at 8.30 a.m on Jul 22
  • Indigenous satellites have provided some pointers and ships are searching the indicated area, but nothing has been spotted
  • There is a possibility that in the Bay of Bengal there are several whirlpools that may have dragged down the debris

CHENNAI/NEW DELHI: An Indian Air Force (IAF) aircraft which disappeared on Friday with 29 people on board remained missing on Sunday, July 24, despite an intensive search and rescue operation, codenamed ‘Operation Talash”, and some pointers were provided by indigenous satellites.

A senior defence ministry official said indigenous satellites have provided some pointers and ships are searching the indicated area, but nothing has been spotted.

The navy has pressed a flotilla of vessels including a submarine to locate the missing AN-32 which went off the radar two days ago over the Bay of Bengal just half hour after taking off from Chennai on its journey to Port Blairr.

There has been no trace of the plane or debris. There are also no signals from the transporter, officials said.

According to Indian Coast Guard, an international safety network was activated as part of the search and rescue procedures for alerting the merchant ships passing through the region.

The Coast Guard said ships like MV Harsh Vardhana enroute from Port Blair to Chennai, MV Sebat and MV Delice were directed to keep a sharp look out for survivors or debris.

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An experienced pilot of the Indian defence forces told IANS: “Normally it would take a week for the debris to float in such cases. But search and rescue operations have to be carried out.”

According to him, if the plane broke into several parts, then there may be a possibility of some debris floating.

But if it falls into the sea without breaking, then it may take nearly a week for some items to come to the surface from the sea depth.

“As per our calculations, the sea depth in the area of search is around 3,500 metres,” T.M. Balakrishnan Nair, Head, Information Services Group, Indian National Centre for Ocean Information Services (INCOIS), told IANS over phone from Hyderabad.

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He said the organisation was running models estimating the distance to where the plane debris would have been carried by the sea current.

“In the Bay of Bengal there are several whirlpools that may have dragged down the debris,” he added.

Eastern Naval Command chief Vice Admiral H.C.S. Bisht said that a large number of ships, helicopters and aircraft are contributing to the search.

“We are also seeking ISRO’s help to get satellite imagery of that area so that we have at least some information… Parallelly we are also reaching out to families,” he said.

Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, after reviewing the search and rescue operations on Saturday, had asked the commanding officers to keep in touch with families of those on board the missing aircraft.

Bisht said the search has been made difficult by the monsoon weather conditions over the sea.

“The only challenge we are facing is of monsoon condition, rough seas; another challenge is the depth which is around 3,500 meters and at some points even more than that,” he said.

The cloud base is low and it is raining continuously in the area, he said.

“We are continuously searching the area. As of now we have 12 ships. We will be increasing the assets. We are also doing regular aerial surveillance. The aim is to harness as many resources as possible.”

The missing aircraft, an upgraded AN-32 belonging to 33 Squadron, took off from Tambaram Air Force Station in Chennai at 8.30 a.m. and was expected to land at Port Blair in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands at 11.30 a.m.

The recorded transcript of Chennai air traffic radar showed the last pickup of the aircraft was 151 nautical miles east of Chennai when it was observed to have carried out a left turn with rapid loss of height from 23,000 feet.

The AN-32 is a twin engine turboprop, medium tactical transport aircraft of Russian origin. It can carry a maximum load of around 6.7 tonnes or 39 paratroopers. Its maximum cruise speed is 530 kmph. (IANS)

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India Demands Data on UN Staff Misconduct, Use of Immunity

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United nations
India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about misconduct by UN staff. Flickr

United Nations, Oct 7: In an attempt to break the wall of silence around the crimes and UN staff misconduct and those on its assignments, India has demanded the secretariat disclose information about such cases and the immunity invoked against prosecutions.

Yedla Umasankar, the legal advisor in India’s UN Mission, touched a raw nerve here by criticising the UN on Friday for not vigorously following up allegations of serious wrongdoing by its employees who enjoy the equivalent of diplomatic immunity, a prized possession of its staff.

“It appears that the UN system itself may be reluctant to waive immunity even for serious misconduct carried out by its personnel while serving on its missions, so that such cases can be prosecuted by the host governments,” he told the General Assembly’s committee on legal affairs.

“Even a few of such instances or allegations of crimes committed by UN personnel is highly damaging for the image and credibility of the United Nations system and its work around the world,” he added.

His statement also touched on the practice of some countries that protect their wrongdoers at the UN.

Umasankar demanded that secretariat disclose how many cases of serious misconduct by UN personnel were registered and the number of cases where the UN refused to waive immunity to allow their prosecution.

He also wanted to know in how many cases the host country wanted the immunity waived so it can prosecute those accused; the number of times the UN asked the host country or the country that sent them to prosecute them; how many times it consulted countries before waiver of the immunity of their personnel and how many of them refused UN’s request to waive their citizens’ immunity.

The information he wanted does not cover the diplomats sent by member countries to represent them at UN bodies and enjoy diplomatic immunity with the nations hosting the UN facilities.

After scores of serious allegations of sexual misconduct by peacekeepers, especially exploitation of children, the UN vowed to uphold a policy of zero tolerance and began publishing data on such cases in peacekeeping operations including how they were dealt with.

Starting with the year 2015, it began identifying the nationalities of those accused.

However, it has not made public a roster detailing all the allegations and proven cases of serious misconduct across the entire UN.

While the focus has been on sexual exploitation and abuse reported on peacekeeping operations, Umasankar said that “at a broader level, the issue of accountability has remained elusive in some cases”.

He attributed it to “the complexities of legal aspects relating to sovereignty and jurisdiction”, the immunity or privileges that may be necessary for UN operations, and the capability or willingness of countries to investigate and prosecute the accused.

He noted that the UN itself cannot make criminal prosecutions.

While Indian laws has provisions for dealing with crimes committed abroad by its citizens, not all countries have them, he said.

Those countries should be encouraged and helped to implement such measures, he added. (IANS)

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7 killed, after Mi-17 V5 an IAF Chopper Crashed in Arunachal

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IAF chopper Mi-17 v5
IAF chopper Mi-17 V5, at Yelhanka, Air Force Station. Wikimedia

Tawang, October 6:  Seven Indian Air Force personnel were killed after a Mi-17 V5, IAF Chopper Crashed in Arunachal Pradesh on Friday.

Tawang district Superintendent of Police Manoj Kumar Meena said the IAF Chopper Crashed around 6.30 a.m. killing all the seven people on board.

The chopper was on a routine Air Maintenance Mission, Meena quoted a Defence officer as saying.

The crash site is located at some four-to-five hours drive from Tawang. “It is a forested area,” Meena said adding that the bodies are being brought to the helipad near Tawang.

“We are told that there were no civilians and all were defence personnel,” he said.

Earlier in July an Indian Air Force chopper engaged in a flood rescue mission crashed near Papum Pare district in the hill state killing four persons including three IAF crew and one India Reserve Battalion (IRB) personnel.

The frequently changing weather condition in Arunachal Pradesh makes flying of choppers difficult in the area and there have been several incidents of crashes in the hill state in the past.

The then Chief Minister of Arunachal Pradesh, Dorjee Khandu, and four others also died in an IAF Chopper Crashed in the hill state in 2011. (IANS)

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India has ‘Plan B’, ready for any challenge from China, says Indian Air Force Chief B S Dhanoa

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ACM Dhanoa
Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa.

New Delhi, Oct 5: Indian Air Force Chief, Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa on Thursday said India is prepared to counter any threat from China and was also ready to face a two-front war.

Addressing the annual press conference of the IAF ahead of Air Force Day, the Indian Air Force Chief said they have a ‘Plan B’ to cater for the shortage of strength if there is a situation of war on two fronts.

“We need a strength of 42 squadrons to carry out full spectrum operations, but it doesn’t mean we can’t fight a two-front scenario. There is a Plan B,” he said when asked about being prepared for a two-front war.

He also said the possibility of a two-front war in the current geopolitical scenario is low.

He said “our capability is adequate” to counter any threat from the Eastern side — China.

The Indian Air Force Chief also said more than assets, the question was what China can and cannot do operating from Tibet against India.

He also said that Chinese troops are still stationed in the Chumbi valley, of which Doklam is a part, and hoped that they return soon.

Dhanoa said: “We are not in physical face-off but in Chumbi valley their troops are still deployed.”

“Hope they will withdraw in future after their exercises are over,” the IAF chief said.

He also said that there was no face-off in the air during the over 70 days long standoff and there were no air violations.

“I take this opportunity to assure the nation of our sacred resolve in defending the sovereignty of our skies,” he added.(IANS)