Malaysia Airlines flight MH370: Search throws up questions of security, diplomacy

Mar 29 2014, 15:21 IST
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Air search crews for Malaysia Airlines MH370 plane said that Australian personnel were flying with the Chinese on their sorties. Air search crews for Malaysia Airlines MH370 plane said that Australian personnel were flying with the Chinese on their sorties.
SummarySituation created by missing Malaysia Airlines MH370 plane has regional rivals struggling for answers.

The Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 tragedy has raised many questions that leaders across a number of nations are struggling with.

The pot-bellied silhouette of a Chinese Il-76 military transport plane appeared in the sky over Perth International Airport just as the U.S. naval officer was explaining how he guards his cutting-edge surveillance plane.

Lieutenant Commander Adam Schantz was ticking off the measures, including a round-the-clock guard and armed rapid response team, as he caught sight of the Chinese aircraft coming in to land a few metres from the U.S. P8 Poseidon for which he is responsible.

The search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is producing strange bedfellows.

"Yeah, it's a little different," Schantz said with a laugh.

Also see: New objects spotted in hunt for crashed Malaysia Airlines Flight MH 370

At least six countries - the United States, China, South Korea, Japan, New Zealand and Australia - are participating in the search and rescue operation for the flight, which disappeared almost three weeks ago and is believed to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean off Australia's west coast.

The level of military cooperation between a grouping of countries that contains several traditional antagonists has been unprecedented. But as the wary allies focus on solving the Malaysia Airlines missing plane mystery, they are keenly aware of the boundaries of cooperation, diplomatic or military.

"When they are out there and the U.S. is using its sensors, you can be absolutely sure that the Chinese are recording all of that and are analysing how it's done because that's very useful in understanding how the P8s work," David Brewster, a visiting fellow at the Strategic Defence and Studies Centre at the Australian National University, told Reuters.

The Poseidon, an anti-submarine warfare and electronic signals interception plane manufactured by Boeing Co, is the most advanced of its type. Australia, New Zealand, Japan and South Korea all operate an earlier model, the P3 Orion, while China has the larger Russian-made Ilyushin.

The P8 only entered service in 2013 and information on its sophisticated sensors could be a prime target for Chinese intelligence.

"I'm not surprised to see a lot of security. There's a lot of political sensitivity," Brewster said.

Western forces are also keeping their eyes open. Air search crews for Malaysia Airlines plane said that Australian personnel were flying with the Chinese on their sorties. It was not clear if that was for security reasons or to assist with

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