Monday, 2 May 2011

Sukhois Might Have Found The Crashed Chopper in Bhutan: IAF

The Indian Air Force (IAF) Monday said images taken by two Sukhoi aircraft have detected ‘an aircraft-like something’ in an area in Bhutan, giving out hope that the helicopter carrying Arunachal Pradesh Chief Minister Dorjee Khandu might be located.

‘Technical means are available within the country and are far more superior. I am quite positive, we will able to find the location (the whereabouts of the helicopter) shortly,’ Air Marshal K.K. Nohwar, chief of the IAF’s Eastern Air Command, told journalists.
The Pawan Hans AS350 B-3 helicopter carrying the 56-year-old Khandu and four others went missing Saturday morning after it took off from Tawang at 9.50 a.m, and has remained untraced for the third day Monday.

‘Sukhoi-30s with recce pods and ISRO have managed to pick up something which has been given for assessment. The data (from Sukhoi and ISRO) is being corroborated with the ground situation,’ Nohwar said.

On Sunday, two satellites from the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) had taken images but they were hazy due to bad weather.
Two Sukhoi-30 aircraft from a base in Bareilly also completed aerial mapping over Arunachal Pradesh Sunday in an attempt to get definite clues about the missing helicopter.
‘Our helicopters have made attempts to go to certain areas in Bhutan. Whenever the weather is clearing, the helicopters which are kept at stand by at three focal areas at Tawang, Tezpur and Guwahati would be pressed into service,’ he added.

Nohwar said, ‘Information coming from villagers says they heard or saw something and this is being collated with other inputs, and based on that search is being conducted.’
The air marshal added: ‘From the time we got the information, we have launched our helicopters to the areas about which we received inputs. We also made attempts to go to that side (Bhutan) based on inputs. The army has also launched a massive operation on the ground.’

He said inputs also came from ISRO on three possible sites.
Asked if the helicopter could have crashed, Nohwar said: ‘It is too early to say about the reason. The bad weather could be one of the reasons. But the aircraft involved here is just four months old and it’s a brand new aircraft.’

Asked if China had anything to do with the chopper remaining untraced, the Eastern Air Command chief said: ‘Let’s not jump the gun, and I don’t think so.’

The Crisis Management Team monitoring the rescue and search operation here identified three possible locations where the helicopter might have landed or crashed – Eaglenest Wildlife Sanctuary and Nagajen in the state’s West Kameng district, and the small village of Mobi in Trashiyangtse district of Bhutan.
All the three locations are bordering the Tawang district of Arunachal Pradesh.