The RAAF has sent two AP-3C Orion maritime surveillance aircraft to assist in the international search efforts to find the missing Malaysia Airlines 777 flight MH370 that disappeared on Saturday morning.
The two Orions have been based in Darwin, with one aircraft departing there for Malaysia on Sunday evening, with the second due to depart Monday morning.
“This is a terrible tragedy and the Australian Defence Force stands ready to do all it can to assist our Malaysian friends,” acting Chief of Defence Force Air Marshal Mark Binskin said.
“This has affected all Australians very deeply and our thoughts are with the families of all those caught in this incident.”
The Orions join more than 30 aircraft and 40 ships from seven different nations involved in the search effort.
Their deployment comes as a Vietnamese navy aircraft late on Sunday spotted an object in the sea that could have come from the missing 777 aircraft, but ships sent to the location, about 90km south of the island of Tho Chu, on Monday morning failed to find the object, which resembled an aircraft door or emergency exit.
With no firm trace of the aircraft found more than 48 hours after the 777 missing, consensus among aviation experts holds that the aircraft likely exploded in mid-air, either due to an act of terrorism or a catastrophic mechanical failure.
The terrorism theory has gained currency with the discovery that two passengers onboard the aircraft were travelling on stolen passports.