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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Helicopters Take Part in Search for Malaysian Airlines MH370

By Emma Kelly, Australia and Pacific Correspondent

Loading the Seahawk in preparation for MH370 search
The Royal Australian Navy Sikorsky S-70B2 Seahawk joined the international search mission for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the Indian Ocean, west of Perth, Australia. On March 28, a Royal Australian Air Force Boeing C-17 Globemaster transported the Seahawk from HMAS Albatross, Nowra, NSW, to RAAF Base Pearce in Western Australia, from where the search is being coordinated. The Seahawk was transported to the search area by RAN Anzac-class frigate HMAS Toowoomba, which reached the area on April 1.

“We know this will be a tough and potentially challenging deployment, but Toowoomba is capable and well-suited to this mission and our Seahawk helicopter will help us to maximize our reach,” says HMAS Toowoomba acting Commanding Officer Matt Doornbos. Seven Chinese ships involved in the search effort or on their way are also believed to be carrying helicopters. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority is coordinating the search effort, which on April 3 was centered on an area of about 223,000 square kilometers, some 1,680-km west-northwest of Perth.

Photo courtesy of Royal Australian Navy
An extensive fixed-wing fleet has been deployed to date, including two RAAF Lockheed Martin P3 Orions, two Malaysian Lockheed Martin C-130s, a Chinese Ilyushin Il-76, a U.S. Navy Boeing P8 Poseidon, a Japanese Gulfstream V, a Republic of Korea P3 Orion, a Royal New Zealand Air Force P3 and a Japanese P3 Orion, with a business jet providing a communications relay. On April 3, eight military aircraft and nine ships were involved in the search. MH370, with 239 passengers and crew onboard, disappeared on March 8 on a scheduled service between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing.

Related: Military News

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