Vietnam loses contact with plane searching for missing fighter pilot

By VnExpress   June 16, 2016 | 06:22 pm GMT+7

Vietnam has lost contact with a CASA maritime reconnaissance aircraft of the Vietnam Coast Guard with nine people on board in the waters off the coast of the northern city of Hai Phong this noon when it was out searching for the missing Su30-MK2 fighter pilot Tran Quang Khai.  

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Vietnam currently has 3 CASA-212-40 planes in operation which are produced by Airbus.

Taking into account the latest incident, the country is at the same time struggling to search for two missing aircraft--the CASA-212-40 and the Su-30MK2, and 10 people with 9 on the European-made CASA and pilot Tran Quang Khai on the Russian-made fighter jet.

9:00 p.m.

Hai Phong Border guard forces have not been able to approach the area where the CASA went missing due to big waves and darkness at sea. But they are determined to work overnight.

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8:30 p.m.

Statistics from the National Committee for Search and Rescue showed that nearly 2,700 people with 14 airplanes and 183 vessels from both military and civilian forces are searching for the two missing aircraft.

8:00 p.m.

The Office of the National Committee for Search and Rescue said the aircraft departed from Hanoi’s Gia Lam Airport at 9:10 a.m. on Thursday and went missing at 12:30 p.m. in the same day. Colonel Le Kiem Toan, Commander of the Air Force Brigade 918 of the Vietnam Air Force-Air Defense, is the pilot of the missing CASA number 8983.

The Ministry of National Defense has directed the Third Military Region, the People’s Navy, the Border Guard and Coard Guard to immediately send high-speed boats to the area where the CASA number 8983 went missing. They are also asked to seek help from fishing boats operating in the Gulf of Tonkin for the search.

A source from Hai Phong Border Guard Command said strong winds and waves in the area make the search more difficult. The city’s Border Guard Command has dispatched a number of patrol boats with more than 20 people to join with the naval and fishing vessels in the search for the CASA.

General Vu Van Hien, Chief of the Ministry of National Defense's Office, said relevant information about the latest incident remained unclear as of this afternoon.

A CASA plane of the Vietnam Coast Guard. Photo by People's Army Newspaper

A CASA plane of the Vietnam Coast Guard. Photo by People's Army Newspaper

On June 14, Vietnam's fighter jet Su30-MK2 crashed offshore the central province of Nghe An. The jet had two pilots on board, one of whom, major Nguyen Huu Cuong, was rescued yesterday. 

More than 1,500 people and 182 vehicles from both military and civilian forces are searching for the remaining missing pilot, Lieutenant Colonel Tran Quang Khai, and his crashed fighter jet off the coast of central Vietnam, according to the Ministry of National Defense.

The search zone has been expanded from the waters off the coast of the central province of Ha Tinh to the northern province of Thai Binh. A special device used to detect the jet's black box has also been deployed.

Lieutenant colonel Bui Dinh Hau, Deputy Commander, Regiment 923 of Division 371 said Thursday afternoon the search and rescue forces have identified an object which looks like a life jacket floating in the waters off Thai Binh province. They are on the way to approach the area to find out if it is related to the missing pilot Khai.

Related news:

> Over a thousand people join search for missing Vietnamese fighter pilot

> Vietnamese fighter jet missing, one pilot has returned to the shore

> Vietnamese fighter jet missing, search continues