CANBERRA, March 16 (Xinhua) -- Two Royal Australian Air Force ( RAAF) AP-3C Orion aircraft will continue to support the Malaysian to coordinate the search for the missing flight MH370 in the extended new area, Chief of the Defense Force General David Hurley said here Sunday.
Hurley confirmed that Malaysian authorities coordinating the search had re-tasked an Australian aircraft, according to an update from Australian Department of Defense.
"Today one RAAF AP-3C Orion commenced searching the Indian Ocean to the north and west of the Cocos Islands," he said.
"This aircraft is expected to return to the Cocos Islands overnight and launch from that location on Monday to maximize mission time in the expanded search area," he added.
He said that the second RAAF AP-3C Orion will continue to search areas west of Malaysia.
Australia has provided two RAAF aircraft to assist the Malaysian government in its search effort since March 9.
Both aircraft are tasked by the Royal Malaysian Air Force commander for the Western Region Search Area and requests for information on progress of the search should be directed to the Malaysian authorities.
"To date, RAAF AP-3C Orions operating from Royal Malaysian Air Force Base Butterworth, near Penang, have flown 51.5 hours on search missions," General Hurley said.
"The Australian Defense Force continues to work closely with the Malaysian authorities to coordinate the international search mission," he added.