| WASHINGTON, March 21
WASHINGTON, March 21 The U.S. military's search
for the missing Malaysian jetliner has cost $2.5 million so far,
the Pentagon estimated on Friday, adding it has set aside about
$4 million for the hunt so far, enough to cover operations
through early April.
It was the first disclosure of costs for the U.S. ships and
aircraft joining the search for Malaysia Airlines
Flight MH-370, which went missing almost two weeks ago with 239
The United States initially dispatched the Navy's
guided-missile destroyer USS Kidd, as well as the USS Pinckney,
to comb the seas for any signs of wreckage. They have been
Two U.S. spy planes are now hunting for the jet, including
an advanced P-8A Poseidon designed to spot submarines.
Pentagon spokesman Colonel Steve Warren acknowledged that
some of the costs of the hunt would have been money spent
regardless. He did not say whether the United States might seek
any reimbursement from Malaysia.
"As of now, we've set aside $4 million to aid in the search.
Based on our current expenditures, we expect these funds will
last until sometime in the beginning of April," Warren said.
That is not a deadline, however. At the Pentagon on
Thursday, spokesman Rear Admiral John Kirby said: "We're going
to stay with this as long as the Malaysians need our help."
Earlier on Friday, Malaysian Defense Minister Hishammuddin
Hussein said via Twitter he would speak to U.S. Defense
Secretary Chuck Hagel about the need for "pinger locator
The Navy has a system called a "Towed Pinger Locator", an
underwater listening device towed behind ships that is used to
search for downed Navy and commercial aircraft at depths of up
to 20,000 feet (6000 meters), according to the U.S. Navy's
The P-8 spy plane also carries sonobuoys that can be dropped
into the sea and use sonar signals to search the waters below.
The Pentagon confirmed the call but did not immediately
provide details on any requests.
The international team hunting Malaysia Airlines
Flight MH370 in the remote southern Indian Ocean failed to turn
up anything on Friday, and Australia's deputy prime minister
said the suspected debris may have sunk.
International aircraft and ships have also renewed a search
in the Andaman Sea between India and Thailand, going over areas
that have already been exhaustively swept to find some clues.
Beyond dispatching the P-8A Poseidon, the U.S. Navy has also
dispatched its P-3 spy plane. That aircraft was expected to
shift its search toward the remote Cocos Islands from the Bay of
Bengal, the Pentagon said.
"I don't have an exact timeline (for the shift in search
area). I believe over the weekend," Warren said.
(Reporting by Phil Stewart; Editing by Stephen Powell)