India on Sunday deployed two long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft in the Indian Ocean to help trace the Malaysian plane that mysteriously went missing over two weeks ago, carrying 239 people on board.
The two surveillance aircraft- P8-I Poseidon of the Indian Navy and C-130J Super Hercules of the Indian Air Force - took off today from Subang Airport, Malaysia for search and rescue operations in the Indian Ocean along the southern corridor.
They arrived here on March 21 following a commitment from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to assist Malaysia and render all possible assistance to it in locating the missing Malaysian Airlines flight MH 370, the Ministry of External Affairs said.
Both the aircraft have long endurance capabilities coupled with state-of-the-art electro optronic and infra red search and reconnaissance equipment on board, it said in a press release.
The P8-I aircraft has the added advantage of on-board radars and especially-designed search and rescue kits.
Both Indian aircraft took off this morning for the search areas allotted by the Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre (ARCC) after extensive briefings.
Even though they are likely to encounter cyclonic conditions en route, both aircraft Captains decided to skirt bad weather areas to reach the search sectors allotted by the ARCC.
Both aircraft are likely to undertake 10-hour sorties today.
India has been participating in search and rescue operations from March 11 in the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal.
Five ships and six aircraft of the Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard carried out search from March 11-21 from the Andaman and Nicobar Command.
With the arrival of these two long-range maritime reconnaissance aircraft in Malaysia, India has now joined the next phase of 'International Search and Rescue' operations under coordination of ARCC.
The Indian crews were warmly received by the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) Base Subang, and the Base Commander personally received and briefed the Indian crews at the RMAF Base Subang.
The Indian crews, who have a long association of operating and training with RMAF, were appreciative of the high-level of professional support rendered by the RMAF.
India has assured that they will undertake any mission assigned by the ARCC and render any assistance that is technically feasible, the release said.
The Beijing-bound plane was carrying 239 people, including five Indians and one Indian-Canadian.
Search areas for the missing plane encompass a northern corridor stretching approximately from the border of Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan to northern Thailand, as well as a southern one from Indonesia to the southern Indian Ocean.