Following the June 3 crash of the IAF aircraft AN-32 in Arunachal Pradesh, which killed 13 persons on board, it is now almost certain that the IAF may curtail the role of the aircraft in extreme environments.
Three senior IAF officials under the condition of anonymity, as quoted by The Print, said, “The AN-32, seen as a workhorse for the force, may be taken off duties that involve flying over mountainous regions and oceans out of safety concerns. The effort will be to assign most of those tasks to the C295 medium transport aircraft that we are buying. They have higher safety margins.”
The officers further informed that the defence ministry has wrapped up price negotiations for 56 C295 aircraft made by Airbus, and while it is meant to replace the fleet of the vintage medium-sized Avro 748 transport planes, it will also be suitable for demanding roles that the AN-32 currently undertakes.
“The $2.5-billion project is likely to come up before the Defence Acquisition Council (DAC) for final clearance. Airbus Defence and Space and Tata Advanced Systems Limited (TASL) will jointly execute the project, which will also be part of the Make in India initiative in the aerospace sector,” The Print further wrote quoting one of the officers.
Former IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal Fali Major (retd), while commenting on the future of AN-32, said that even though the aircraft is a versatile plane and has served the IAF well, but it is too old and even the upgraded variants are nowhere close to the new-generation tactical air lifters.
“The C295s can carry out most of the roles performed by AN-32s. I hope we conclude the C295 deal soon,” he further said.
It may be mentioned here that June 3, 2019, AN-32 crash has put the safety record of the aircraft in the spotlight, especially since the incident now takes the total toll in AN-32 accidents to 55 in 10 years.
The ill fated plane took off from Jorhat in Assam and was on its way to an advanced landing ground at Mechuka in Arunachal Pradesh’s West Siang district when it vanished from the radar screens and slammed into a hillside.
An airborne search team spotted the wreckage eight days after it disappeared on June 11.
None of the 13 on board survived the crash.
For the records, it may be mentioned here that in July 2016, an AN-32 went down in the Bay of Bengal with 29 people on board.
Exactly a decade ago, an AN-32 crashed in West Siang, killing all 13 on board.