SUBANG: Two Japanese P-3C Orion military aircraft took off from the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) base here this morning and will join search and rescue operations in Australia for the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370.
“We will be going to Australia to try and find MH370 ... When we arrive in Australia, we will start to coordinate with the (Royal) Australian Air Force,” commanding officer Hidetsugu Iwamasa, 41, told reporters before boarding the aircraft.
Hidetsugu is part of the Japan Disaster Relief (JDR) team that was sent to Malaysia following MH370’s disappearance.
The P-3C Orions are maritime patrol aircraft and possess avionics capable of detecting submarines underwater.
The JDR team consists of 107 servicemen, including two C-130 Hercules from the Japan Air Self Defence Force and one Gulfstream V aircraft from the Japan Coast Guard.
Japanese Ambassador to Malaysia Dr Makio Miyagawa said that the two P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft would continue their operations in the South Indian Ocean.
“The base will be shifted to Perth from Subang, but we will certainly continue our assistance vis-a-vis the Malaysian Government,” he told reporters.
Meanwhile, Subang RMAF deputy base commander Lt Col Hanafiah Ab Manaf commended the Japanese team for their assistance.
“They are a very good team, they are workaholics.
“They’re ever willing to go (on missions) and they’re very cooperative ... Always on time,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Indian armed forces deployed two of its aircraft for search operations in the Indian Ocean.
The Indian Navy dispatched a P8-I Poseidon, while the Indian Air Force deployed a C-130J Hercules from the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) base in Subang.
Despite the expected bad weather, both the aircraft were likely to undertake 10-hour search operations each.
Both the aircraft are equipped with long endurance capabilities coupled with state-of-the-art electro-optronic and infra-red search as well as reconnaissance equipment on board.
The P8-I aircraft has the added advantage of on-board radars and specially designed search and rescue kits.
India has been participating in the search and rescue operations from March 11 in the Andaman Sea and Bay of Bengal.
Altogether, 26 countries are involved in the search for the plane, which went missing in the early hours of March 8.