The hunt to locate and retrieve Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, now known to be in the middle of the southern Indian Ocean, has become a full joint military exercise.
There are ships, surveillance aircraft, search and rescue helicopter – and I’m willing to bet, unmanned aerial vehicles and perhaps a submarine or two – from armed forces of several nations, including the world’s best equipped and most sophisticated military forces.
There will be sensitivities and classified secrets to be safeguarded. This is especially true when, in what is a highly rare occurrence, China and the US are effectively joint partners in a military operation. It’s not just about what equipment each force has – merely making known the information that equipment gleans to the other side can give away clues to capabilities that are highly classified.
The good news here is that Australia, which is leading the search effort in this particular sector off the southwest coast of Perth, has excellent military capabilities itself and also has good relations with the US and China.
Satellite imagery and sightings of debris by Royal Australian Air Force surveillance officers are now firmly believed to be wreckage from the Boeing 777-200 that disappeared March 8 during a routine flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 people on board. We seem to be one step closer to finding answers to this awful mystery, which Malaysia Airlines' Group CEO rightly described as "unprecedented."
The primary focus remains to retrieve as much wreckage of the aircraft and as many bodies as possible.
Difficult weather conditions combined with rough, remote seas, still make this a severely challenging and likely long mission. But with the combined military capabilities and expertise now working together, MH370 will be found and ultimately the reasons to why it was so far off its planned course and what caused its terrible fate will be understood.