- The Washington Times - Monday, March 24, 2014

The Pentagon is shuttling specialized military equipment overseas to aid efforts to locate the black box recorder which could provide critical clues to what happened the night that Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 went missing.

U.S. Pacific Command Commander Navy Adm. Samuel J. Locklear has issued an order to ship the equipment to the western Australia town of Perth in case a debris site for the Malaysian plane is located within the next few weeks. Pentagon spokesman Rear Adm. John Kirby told reporters Monday that a “Towed Pinger Locator 25” as well as a Bluefin-21 autonomous underwater vehicle were placed on a chartered jet and flown out of John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.

The locator is a highly sensitive listening device designed to hone in on the black box. The Bluefin-21 has a side-scan sonar and a multibeam echosounder, Rear Adm. Kirby said. The Bluefin-21 can operate at 14,700 feet, he said.

Two active-duty naval personnel accompanied the equipment and eight more Pentagon personnel are expected to join eight civilian contractors in the next few days, according to Rear Adm. Kirby.

“It’s only going to be of value if you know you have something down there that you know is going to be worth taking a closer look at,” he said.

The U.S. military is part of an multinational search and rescue team that has been combing the ocean in search of aircraft remains. Currently, the Pentagon is contributing two high-tech Navy aircraft to the search — a Boeing P-8 Poseidon and a Lockheed P-3 Orion.

The jetliner went missing on March 8. There remains a 13-day window before the black box is projected to lose its data.

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