China’s People Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) has deployed three aircraft to assist with the continuing search for Malaysian Airlines flight MH370’, which has been missing since March 8 with 239 people on board. The PLAAF aircraft comprise two Ilyushin Il-76MDs (serials 20541 and 21045) and one Shaanxi Y-8C (serial 20146). After being tasked for the mission by China’s Central Military Commission, they left Sanya Airport in southern China at around 0800hrs local time, headed initially for Subang, Malaysia.
The Y-8C is now conducting search operations from Subang, while the two Il-76MDs have flown on to Australia. They arrived on March 23 at RAAF Base Pearce, Western Australia, after initially landing at Perth International Airport, 18 miles (30 km) to the south of Pierce. They are operating from Pearce as the search for missing Boeing 777-2H6ER 9M-MRO continues, concentrating now on an area of the southern Indian Ocean some 1,500 miles (2,500km) southwest of Perth. The Malaysian Government announced on March 24 that the wreckage seen in the area is ‘almost certainly’ that of the missing airliner. Alan Warnes