Malaysian authorities have re-tasked one of two Australian maritime patrol aircraft that are supporting the search for Malaysia Airlines’ flight MH370, Defence has confirmed.
“[On Sunday] one RAAF AP-3C Orion commenced searching the Indian Ocean to the north and west of the Cocos Islands,” stated Chief of the Defence Force General David Hurley on Sunday evening. “This aircraft is expected to recover to the Cocos Islands overnight and launch from that location on Monday to maximise mission time in the expanded search area.”
The second RAAF Orion involved in the effort will continue to search to the west of Malaysia. Australia has provided the aircraft to assist the Malaysian government since March 9. Operating out of Royal Malaysian Air Force Base Butterworth, they had flown 51.5 hours on search missions as of the time of the statement from General Hurley.
Subsequently on Monday Prime Minister Tony Abbott told Parliament that after a request from Malaysia that Australia would assume responsibility for the ‘southern vector’ search for the missing Boeing 777-200, and that Australia would commit more resources to the search.
“They [the two Orions] remain available to assist in whatever way the Malaysian authorities wish and it’s my intention to talk later today with the Malaysians to see if there’s additional help that Australia can offer,” the Prime Minister said.