Airliner Search Funding Could Last Until April, DOD Spokesman Says
By Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, March 21, 2014 The Defense Department estimates funding set aside for assistance to the Malaysian government in the search for missing Malaysia Flight 370 could last until April, a Pentagon spokesman said here today.
Naval Aircrewman Operator 2nd Class Mike Burnett, an electronic warfare operator attached to Patrol Squadron 16, watches the exterior of a P-8A Poseidon during a high-frequency radio check in Perth, Australia, March 20, 2014, before a mission to assist in search and rescue operations for Malaysia Airlines flight 370. U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Eric A. Pastor
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Army Col. Steve Warren provided the department’s costs in response to a query from Pentagon reporters earlier this week.
“As of now, we’ve set aside $4 million to aid in the search,” he said. “Based on our current expenditures, we expect these funds will last until sometime in the beginning of April.”
The total cost for supporting the search for Flight 370 is now about $2.5 million, Warren said. This includes operating costs of the ships and aircraft currently supporting the search, he added.
Variables such as the number of flight hours or any other assets that may be dedicated to the search could affect this estimate, Warren noted.
The colonel pointed out that some of the cost would have been incurred even without providing assistance to the search, because the USS Kidd “was already out and operating.”
With two aircraft currently assisting the search, and the Navy ships previously dedicated to the efforts, Warren said the U.S. is doing all it can.
“We’ve offered the P-8 [Poseidon] and the P-3 [Orion] that are participating,” noting that President Barack Obama and Pentagon Press Secretary Navy Rear Adm. John Kirby have made clear that “we’re providing everything that we can.”
Earlier this week, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to assisting in the ongoing search for the missing flight during a phone call with Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin Tun Hussein. Warren said today that plans are to move the P-3 Orion assisting in the search to the southern search area in coordination with Australia.
“It’s still up in the Bay of Bengal now,” he said. “There is a plan for it to move further south. I don’t have an exact timeline, but I believe it’s moving south toward the Cocoa Islands.”
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