Missing IAF fighter plane still untraceable, search on
Search for the Indian Air Force's (IAF) Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter plane that went missing with two pilots in Assam continued on Wednesday, a day after it lost radar and radio contact, a defence spokesman said.
Search operations were on in the areas where the plane lost contact with the Tezpur Salonibari Air Force station from where it took off at 10.30 am on Tuesday, defence spokesman Lt Col Sombit Ghosh of the Army's 4 Corps said.
The fighter plane had taken off from Salonibari IAF station in Tezpur town in Sonitpur district on a routine training mission and lost contact approximately 60 km north of Tezpur. All necessary action, including search operations by helicopters, have been initiated to track the fighter plane, Col Ghosh added.
Sonitpur district Deputy Commissioner Manoj Kumar Deka had yesterday told reporters in Tezpur that the IAF base did not get radar and radio contact with the aircraft one hour after it took off with the last contact being at a 60 km distance from Dubia of Gohpur sub-division in Biswanath district. After making continuous searches in its network, the Air Force had informed the administration about the missing aircraft, Deka said. He immediately alerted the neighbouring district administration about the incident.
The country s frontline aircraft SU-30 MKI was inducted in Tezpur air base on June 15, 2009 by former IAF Vice Chief Air Marshal P K Barbara during his tenure, IAF sources said.
China said on Wednesday it has no information on the missing Indian Air Force Sukhoi fighter jet with two pilots on board and asked India to stick to the arrangements reached between the two sides to maintain peace.
"For the situation you mentioned, I have no relevant information to offer at the moment," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters when asked about the missing Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter jet and whether China would assist India in finding the plane that took off from the Tezpur base in Assam for a routine training sortie nearly 24 hours ago.
The fighter plane has since been untraceable. "We have been following the situation in South Tibet (Arunachal Pradesh) very closely," he said, apparently referring to reports that the jet was flying over the area before it was reported missing. At the same time, he referred to the border dispute between India and China, saying that "first of all on the eastern section of the India-China border, China's position is consistent and clear." "We hope India can stick to the arrangements reached between the two sides and avoid disrupting peace and stability at the border areas," Lu said.
China's curt reaction came amid a growing discord between the two countries on a host of issues, including the recent visit of the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama to Arunachal Pradesh, which Beijing considers as Southern Tibet.
The India-China border dispute covers the 3,488-km-long Line of Actual Control. While China claims Arunachal Pradesh as Southern Tibet, India asserts that the dispute also covers the 'Aksai Chin' area, which was occupied by China during the 1962 war.
Two days ago another spokesperson of the Chinese foreign ministry said there was "no change" in China's stand on India's membership bid into the Nuclear Supplies Group (NSG). That statement came ahead of the 48-member elite grouping's plenary meeting scheduled next month in Bern, Switzerland. China has also repeatedly blocked India's efforts to impose a UN ban on Pakistan-based JeM leader Masood Azhar.
Last week, India boycotted China's Belt & Road Forum in Beijing over concerns emanating from a project under the ambitious initiative that runs through Gilgit and Baltistan in Pakistan-occupied Kashmir (PoK). India opposes the $46-billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and boycotted the event over sovereignty concerns, though 29 heads of state and government attended the BRF.