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Defence supports search for aircraft

Prime Minister Tony Abbott (centre, blue tie) stands with the representatives of each country involved in the search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 at RAAF Base Pearce in Western Australia.

The ADF is committed to the international effort supporting the Australian Maritime Safety Authority-led search operation for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 in the Southern Indian Ocean.

The ADF is maintaining four AP-3C Orion patrol aircraft at RAAF Base Pearce to support the air search operations, and a Royal Australian Air Force E-7A Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning & Control (AEW&C) is providing additional coordination and flight safety capability for the air search.

The E-7A Wedgetail conducted its first sortie on 1 April, which also marked the first operational sortie ever conducted by a RAAF E-7A Wedgetail.

At sea, HMAS Success and HMAS Toowoomba are assisting with the surface search, while the Australian Defence Vessel (ADV) Ocean Shield is enroute to the search area carrying specialist underwater search and location equipment.

This equipment includes a Towed Pinger Locator (TPL-25) and a Bluefin-21 Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV). The US Navy has also provided specialist Navy and civilian equipment operators who will join the ship’s civilian crew and embarked ADF specialists.

The TPL-25 system can be used for locating the audio Pinger attached to the aircraft’s ‘black box’ (cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder). If the acoustic beacons are detected, the AUV will be used to map the debris field and can be programmed to photograph items of interest.

Additionally, the Defence Maritime Services Vessel (DMSV) Seahorse Standard is enroute to the search area.

Malaysian vessel, KD Lekiu arrived at HMAS Stirling for a briefing and to take on stores before heading to the search area on 3 April.

The ADF is operating with a strong international military team that includes:

  • A Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion.
  • Two US Navy P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.
  • Two Chinese PLA-Air Force Iluyshin IL-76 aircraft.
  • Two Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force P-3C Orions.
  • A Republic of Korea Navy P-3C Orion and one Republic of Korea Air Force C-130H Hercules.
  • Two Royal Malaysian Air Force C-130 Hercules aircraft and one ship.
  • Seven Chinese ships.
  • One submarine and one ship from the United Kingdom.

AMSA’s Rescue Coordination Centre (RCC) Australia is coordinating the search in the Southern Indian Ocean for the Malaysia Airlines aircraft.