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The Indian Air Force has lost its fifth Antonov AN-32 military transport aircraft

The Indian Air Force has lost its fifth Antonov AN-32 military transport aircraft

Tag: GS 3 ||Security ||Tackling Security Threats||Army, Navy & Airforce

Why In News?

  • Indian Air Force commences extensive search and rescue operations and launched C-130, AN-32, Mi-17, and ALH helicopters to trace the Indian Air Force AN-32, aircraft which went missing.


  • Dad of IAF Officer Kunal Barpatte Aboard Missing AN-32 in 2016 Shares Anguish.
  • In July 2016, an AN-32 with his 27-year-old son Flight Lieutenant Kunal Barpatte on board went missing over the Bay of Bengal after leaving for Port Blair from Chennai.

Dad Of IAF Officer Kunal Barpatte

  • “For the last 35 years, we are using the same planes. The government is claiming that they have reconditioned all these aircraft. When I met Manohar Parrikar, the then defense minister, I asked him if he would like to keep using a 30-year old car,” Barpatte said.
  • “I told him that you are putting the lives of young officers in jeopardy by asking them to fly these planes,” said Barpatte, a retired scientist of the Central Institute of Road Transport.

About AN-32

  • AN-32 was fitted with outdated signal emitter which the manufacturer stop manufacturing after 2004.
  • The Search and Rescue Beacon, installed on board the missing Indian Air Force An-32 has not been in production for 14 years. While it may still have been operational, no signal from the unit has been detected by rescuers trying to home in on the wreckage of the aircraft.
  • The nearly four-decade-old AN-32 transport aircraft is known as the “workhorse” of the Indian Air Force, with airmen calling it a “very dependable aircraft” despite the loss of at least 18 aircraft to various crashes and accidents since the contract for it was signed in 1984.
  • Made by Soviet and later Ukrainian manufacturer Antonov, reveals that the AN-32 is nothing but a union of the airframe of the AN-26 transport aircraft and modified engines from the AN-12.
  • The AN-32 got more powerful engines for better “hot and high” performance than its parent, the AN-26.
  • However, it did retain the AN-26s unique short take-off and landing qualities thanks to high-mounted wings.


  • Interestingly, of the 250 AN-32s manufactured by Antonov, India bought 125.
  • This is an aircraft not even used by the USSR or Russia.
  • At least eight other countries operate the AN-32, but in very small numbers. Some have retired these aircraft from service.

Previous Upgradation

  • On 10 June 2009, an Indian Air Force, An-32 transport aircraft carrying 13 people crashed shortly after it took off from Mechukha in Arunachal Pradesh, a state bordering China.
  • All 13 people on board were reported to have been killed. Soon after the crash, India agreed a $US400 million deal with Ukraine for an An-32 fleet upgrade. This upgrade as reported will extend the life of these transport aircraft by nearly 15 years.

Additional References

Mains  Question

Why Antonov AN-32 is India’s most troubled aircraft?