NEW DELHI, July 30 (UPI) — India’s government announced it is seeking U.S. help in locating the country’s air’s force’s AN-32 aircraft, which mysteriously disappeared on July 22.
Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar said the government is looking to determine whether the U.S. satellites picked up signals before the plane, which was carrying 29 passengers, disappeared.
“At the time of disappearance, the aircraft was on secondary/passive radar and there was no SOS or transmission of any frequency. It just disappeared so that is the worrying part,” Parrikar said, according to Times of India.
“It is total blank. There was not even a single signal recorded,” he said. “That is the reason we are contacting American defense forces to ascertain whether their satellites picked up any signal.”
Parrikar said the plane was fit for flight saying that it was an “almost as good as new aircraft” and the pilot had flown for more than 500 hours on the route from Tambaram to Port Blair.
“If aircraft is not fit for flying we don’t fly it. We have decided to check up whether we can improve the signalling system,” he said.
Parrikar said the incident rate of Indian air force is lower than the worldwide average, dismissing concerns the air force has a high crash rate. He ruled out any kind of sabotage.
“I can’t speculate because we are searching for it and I will not like to speculate. But I can say only this much. The possibility, although we are checking all angles, of any sabotage is comparatively very less because they have standard operating procedures,” he said.
Ten Indian Navy ships and a submarine are searching for the ship and have discovered several floating objects, but no concrete evidence of the plane’s whereabouts.
“If we locate something, then we can send deepwater equipment to pick up. We have also diverted ‘Sagar Nidhi’ [vessel] from Mauritius,” he said. “But we have to locate objects. We have to locate it because at this depth you cannot keep on scratching the bottom.”