The Malaysian Insider
MARCH 10, 2014
It was a clear night and the weather was good. Oil rigs and fishing boats blinked lights like a string of pearls across the shallow Malay Basin northeast of Kota Baru. And Flight MH370 flying above in the night sky disappeared.
For a third day in a row, more ships and aircraft are searching for the missing Boeing 777-200ER which was carrying 239 people when it lost contact with air traffic controllers at 1.30am Saturday.
No one has reported a mid-air explosion and US authorities have also discounted that from data obtained from satellites and radars in the area, which is one of the busiest parts of the South China Sea.
The Wall Street Journal reported today that for many, the mystery over the disappearance of Flight MH370 is deepened by its occurrence in what is quickly becoming one of the world’s most militarised zones, with hundreds of millions of dollars being expended to detect fighter jets, missiles, submarines and other threats.
The multinational force scouring parts of the Gulf of Thailand and the South China Sea includes some of the most advanced military surveillance equipment, but the only potential wreckage fragment to date came via a revamped version of a 50-year old propeller plane best known for operating in rough terrain, such as Canada’s Far North.
The strategic goals of China and the US have driven a broader arms race that is peppering the region with more military surveillance equipment above and below the water, including spotter planes and unmanned aerial vehicles, submarines, sonar buoys and helicopters.
They have put behind their animosities and are working together to search for the jet that has 14 nationalities onboard, the majority being Chinese passengers.
All have so far been unable to find solid evidence of the missing jet’s fate, or its whereabouts.
The Vietnamese Navy revealed on Sunday that it spotted a possible fragment from the missing Malaysia Airlines jet during a patrol by a Twin Otter turboprop some 50 miles south-southwest of Tho Chu Island.
The navy in 2010 ordered six DC-6-400 Twin Otter Series 400 aircraft – which can take off and land on water – from Canada’s Viking Air Ltd. It was due to resume its search at first light Monday.
The navy received its first plane at the end of last year, an updated version of the venerable twin-propeller de Havilland Twin Otter, that costs around C$6 million (RM17 million), excluding its sophisticated electronic sensors, the business daily reported.
It joined a force of more than 40 ships and 20 aircraft scouring the area, also drawn from China, the US, Malaysia and Singapore.
Other navies are now expanding the search as far wide as the Andaman Sea on the Thai west coast and the Straits of Malacca between Malaysia and Indonesia.
The U.S. Navy dispatched a destroyer equipped with two helicopters that arrived in the search area early Sunday, while a Lockheed Martin Corp. P-3C Orion surveillance aircraft from Kadena Air Base in Okinawa is due to start a second day of searching Monday.
The MH-60R helicopters built by the Sikorsky Aircraft unit of United Technologies Corp. are based on the USS Pinckney, which was diverted from a training and maritime security mission in international waters in the South China Sea. – March 10, 2014.