KUALA LUMPUR, March 28 – The United States (US) is sending a second P-8 Poseidon patrol aircraft of its Seventh Fleet to Perth, Australia to aid in the search effort for the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. The US Embassy here said in a statement Friday, the P-8 will fly from Okinawa, Japan to Perth, today to join an international coalition of search aircraft being coordinated by the Australian Defence Force. “Harsh weather conditions, including ceilings as low as 800 feet and potential icing, make the addition of the all-weather P-8 extremely valuable,” it said.
It said in terms of mission effectiveness and reliability, the P-8 aircraft which has a maximum speed of 490 knots and provides a range of more than 1,200 nautical miles, represents a leap forward for the navy’s maritime patrol and reconnaissance community. The statement also said, in anticipating the finding of the flight MH370, debris and pinpointing a close approximation of the crash coordinates, the US Pacific Fleet moved a Towed Pinger Locator hydrophone and Bluefin-21 Side-scan sonar into Perth for future positioning to the crash site. It said, this movement was a prudent effort to preposition equipment and trained personnel closer to the search area so that if debris was found, search coordinators would be able to respond as quickly as possible since the battery life of the black box’s pinger is limited.