In a significant breakthrough, an Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) equipped for deep-sea exploration has discovered debris believed to be from the missing Indian Air Force (IAF) An-32 aircraft that vanished without a trace in 2016. The aircraft, bearing registration K-2743, went missing over the Bay of Bengal during a mission, leaving 29 personnel on board.
Despite extensive Search and Rescue operations involving aircraft and ships, no signs of the missing personnel or wreckage were found initially. However, the National Institute of Ocean Technology, operating under the Ministry of Earth Sciences, recently deployed an AUV with advanced deep-sea exploration capabilities to the last known location of the AN-32.
The search, conducted at a depth of 3400 meters, utilized cutting-edge technology, including a multi-beam SONAR (Sound Navigation and Ranging), synthetic aperture SONAR, and high-resolution photography. After careful analysis of the search images, authorities have confirmed the presence of debris from a crashed aircraft on the sea bed, approximately 140 nautical miles (310 Km) from the Chennai coast.
The scrutinized images have been found to be consistent with the characteristics of an An-32 aircraft. Given the absence of any other reported missing aircraft in the vicinity, experts believe that the discovered debris likely belongs to the IAF An-32 with registration K-2743.
This groundbreaking discovery comes after years of uncertainty surrounding the fate of the missing aircraft and its occupants. The families of the 29 personnel on board may finally receive some closure as further investigations are expected to shed light on the circumstances leading to the tragic crash. The Indian Air Force, along with the National Institute of Ocean Technology, is expected to collaborate on additional efforts to retrieve more information and potentially recover wreckage from the deep-sea site.