GUWAHATI: Search operations for the missing Sukhoi-30 fighter jet of Indian Air Force (IAF) were affected on Wednesday due to bad weather. The aircraft with two pilots on board was reported missing on Tuesday from IAF’s Tezpur base near China border. China too said on Wednesday that it had no information about the missing jet.
“The search and rescue operations were resumed at daybreak today (Wednesday). A C-130 aircraft with electro-optical payload, ALH (advanced light helicopter) and Chetak helicopters of the IAF have been tasked for this mission. However, marginal weather prevailing at the area is hampering and impeding the operations,” defence spokesperson Lt Col Sambit Ghosh told The New Indian Express. He said an SU-30 aircraft with recce capability was also being utilised for locating the missing aircraft.
“Till now, no breakthrough has been made in locating the aircraft and its pilots,” he added. With the jet still remaining untraceable, China asked India to stick to the arrangements reached between the two sides to maintain peace. “For the situation you mentioned, I have no relevant information to offer at the moment,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told reporters.
“We have been following the situation in South Tibet (Arunachal Pradesh) very closely,” he said, apparently referring to reports that the jet was flying over the area before it was reported missing. At the same time, he referred to the border dispute between India and China, saying that “first of all on the eastern section of the India-China border, China’s position is consistent and clear.”
“We hope India can stick to the arrangements reached between the two sides and avoid disrupting peace and stability at the border areas,” Lu said.
There were reports that the search operations, conducted in Assam and Arunachal Pradesh were affected due to excessive low clouding. China’s curt reaction came amid a growing discord between the two countries on a host of issues, including the recent visit of the Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama to Arunachal Pradesh, which Beijing considers as Southern Tibet.
The India-China border dispute covers the 3,488-km-long Line of Actual Control. While China claims Arunachal Pradesh as Southern Tibet, India asserts that the dispute also covers the ‘Aksai Chin’ area, which was occupied by China during the 1962 war.