After objections raised by the defence forces, India on Thursday rejected China's request for permission to allow its four warships to enter Indian maritime zone to search for the missing Malaysian airliner.
China, whose 150 nationals are on board the aircraft, had on Wednesday sent a formal request to India to allow their warships including a salvage vessel and two frigates to enter Indian waters in the Andaman Sea to locate the plane.
The request was politely declined and the Chinese Navy was told that Indian Navy and the Air Force were already scanning the area and there was no need for anybody else to search the area, sources told PTI.
The defence forces had raised objections over the entry of Chinese warships into the Indian waters and that too in an area in Bay of Bengal where India's military assets are mainly to guard against China and these could get exposed if the Chinese warships are allowed in, they said. Sources said the Chinese People's Liberation Army's Navy (PLAN) had justified its presence in the Indian Ocean Region in the name of anti-piracy patrol and allowing it to station itself in the Andaman Sea for search operations would not have been prudent.
Meanwhile, India is all set to deploy long-range maritime surveillance aircraft including the P-8I maritime surveillance aircraft and the C-130J Super Hercules aircraft for the search operations in the new area south of Indonesia. These two aircraft are capable of undertaking long-range sorties and refueling themselves at designated locations as the Malaysian authorities have requested India and other countries to search in areas 5,000 km south of Jakarta in the Indian Ocean Region.
India has so far deployed six warships and five maritime surveillance aircraft to locate the missing airliner with 239 passengers on board. The assets deployed for the search operations include INS Saryu, INS Kumbhir and INS Kesari from the Navy and ICGS Kanaklata Barua and ICGS Bhikaji Cama.
The Navy had deployed two of its P-8I maritime surveillance aircraft from INS Rajali in Tamil Nadu for locating the missing plane along with its Dornier maritime surveillance aircraft. The IAF has also pressed into action its C-130J Super Hercules Special Operations aircraft fitted with modern surveillance capabilities to find the plane.