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Mysterious disappearance of MIG-27 not the first

Source: PTI
May 21, 2004 19:17 IST
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The MIG-27 aircraft, missing without a trace even after 45 hours of search, is not the first fighter aircraft in the Indian Airforces' 72-year-long history to have mysteriously disappeared.   

A MIG-21 BIS aircraft piloted by flying officer B Agarwal failed to land at the Bhuj airbase in Gujarat on June 25, 1990 and till date the aircraft and the pilot have not been traced.

Similarly, a MIG-21 trainer piloted by squadron leader Idris Khan and flying officer D Dhaiya went missing after being airborne from Tezpur airport in Assam on April 20, 2002.

It has not been found till now even after an almost three-month- long intense search by transport aircraft and helicopters.

As is the tradition in IAF, both the pilots were officially declared dead and squadron leader Idris Khan given a 'Vayu Sena' medal posthumously.     

On the latest disappearance, IAF sources said bad weather and heavy rains were hampering search and rescue operations and that alert sounded in three neighbouring countries, Bhutan, Bangladesh and Nepal had also not borne any trace of the aircraft.

The sources said the last communication from the pilot was that he has sighted the Bagdogra airport where he was supposed to land.

IAF officers said the plane was equipped with both the VHF as well as high frequency communication equipment.

They said the VHF equipment was normally used in the line of sight and for short distance communication from the ground. And in case of aircraft entering the shadow silent zone it would switch over to high frequency module.

He said the IAF authorities had also scanned the international distress frequency to trace whether the pilot had made any Mayday calls in vain.

The IAF official said only five hours of search operation could be mounted on Friday by MI helicopters as the choppers were grounded due to heavy rains.

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