March 24, 2014 - 09:50 AMT
PanARMENIAN.Net - The United States Navy is moving one of its high-tech Black Box detectors closer to the search area for a missing Malaysia Airlines plane in remote seas off the Australian coast, bolstering hopes wreckage of the plane may be found soon, Reuters reports.
Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 vanished from civilian radar screens less than an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur with 239 people on board on a flight to Beijing on March 8.
The so-called Towed Pinger Locator will be crucial in finding the black box of the missing jetliner if a debris field is established by an Australian-led international search team scouring an area in the southern Indian Ocean some 2,500 km (1,550 miles) southwest of Perth.
"If debris is found we will be able to respond as quickly as possible since the battery life of the black box's pinger is limited," Commander Chris Budde, U.S. Seventh Fleet Operations Officer, said in an emailed statement.
Attention and resources in the search for the Boeing 777 have shifted in recent days from an initial focus north of the equator to an increasingly narrowed stretch of icy sea in the southern Indian Ocean.
Chinese and Japanese military aircraft were joining a 10-strong international fleet of planes scouring the area for the first time on Monday, March 24.
A flotilla of Chinese ships, including the icebreaker Xuelong, or Snow Dragon, is also making its way south. Budde stressed that bringing in the black box detector, which is towed behind a vessel at slow speeds and can pick up "pings" from a black box to a maximum depth of 20,000 feet, was a precautionary measure.
Two Chinese military Ilyushin IL-76 aircraft, two Australian P3 Orions and two ultra-long range civilian jets were in the early search party on Monday. Another ultra-long range jet, a U.S. Navy P8 Poseidon and two Japanese P3 Orions were due to depart later in the day.
NASA said it would use high-resolution cameras aboard satellites and the International Space Station to look for possible crash sites in the Indian Ocean. The U.S. space agency is also examining archived images collected by instruments on its Terra and Aqua environmental satellites, said NASA spokesman Allard Beutel.