The India Air Force (IAF) has equipped all its transport aircraft and helicopter that undertake maritime operations with Underwater Locating Beacon (ULB).
The move follows the accident involving an AN32 plane which continues to be missing nearly six months after it crashed in waters off Chennai. The missing aircraft did not have an ULB fitted on it, making the search operation very difficult, Press Trust Of India reported Friday.
"All transport aircraft and helicopters of IAF undertaking maritime operations have now been equipped with Underwater Locating Beacon (ULB)". In a written reply in Lok Sabha, Minister of State for Defence Subhash Bhamre said.
A massive search operation 'Op Talash' was launched for search of the missing aircraft that crashed on July 22 this year.
A total of 18 Indian naval ships, 1 submarine and 8 Indian Coast Guard ships were deployed for search of the missing IAF aircraft which totalled to 301 ship days of search.
Besides, 14 Indian navy aircraft, 6 Indian Coast Guard aircraft and 10 IAF aircraft were deployed for the search wherein 290 sorties were flown, totalling approximately 1280 flying hours.
Geological Survey of India vessel Samudra Ratnakar was also deployed to undertake sub-bottom profiling in the area and National Institute of Oceanography and Technology vessel Sagar Nidhi was deployed to carry out sea bed search using Remotely Operated Vehicle to a depth of 3000 metres.
National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), Hyderabad was requested for high-resolution satellite image of area around datum. Indigenous satellite such as CARTOSAT 2A and 2B which have a resolution of 0.8m were also used for satellite imagery. However, no concrete evidence with respect to missing IAF AN-32 aircraft has emerged.
Even though United States and the Russian Federation Navy assisted the search of the missing IAF AN-32 transport aircraft, no results correlating to the missing IAF aircraft were reported.
None of the upgraded AN32 aircraft, the main workhorse of the military, had an underwater locator, unlike the modern transport planes like C130J or C17.