New Delhi, March 23 :
Two Indian aircraft Sunday began a search for the missing Malaysian airliner MH370, following a commitment from Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to assist Malaysia, the government said Sunday.
The two aircraft – one P8-I of the Indian Navy and one C-130J of the Indian Air Force – reached Malaysia March 21 to assist the country in locating the missing plane.
“After extensive briefings at the Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centre (ARCC) established by Malaysia, both Indian aircraft took off this morning (Sunday) for the search areas,” said a statement from the external affairs ministry.
It said captains of the two aircraft skirted the bad weather areas to reach the search sectors allotted by the ARCC.
The two aircraft were likely to undertake 10-hour sorties Sunday.
The ministry statement said the two aircraft have long endurance capabilities coupled with state-of-the-art reconnaissance equipment.
The P8-I has the added advantage of onboard radars and especially designed search and rescue kits.
The release said India has been participating in search and rescue missions for the missing plane from March 11 in the Andaman Sea and the Bay of Bengal.
Five ships and six aircraft of the Indian Navy and Coast Guard carried out search March 11-21 from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands.
India has now joined the next phase of international search and rescue operations under the ARCC’s coordination.
India has assured Malaysia that it will undertake any mission assigned by the ARCC and render any assistance that is technically feasible, the statement said.
The Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 vanished mysteriously about an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur March 8. The plane was scheduled to land in Beijing around 6 a.m. the same day. The 227 passengers on board included five Indians, 154 Chinese and 38 Malaysians.