A fleet of Chinese military satellites will assist the efforts to locate the Malaysian aircraft that disappeared without a trace on Friday in the South China Sea.
The satellites will be used to capture high-resolution images of the area of the presumed crash, which experts will analyse in search for any hints about what might have happened to the MH370 flight from Kuala Lumpur with 239 people aboard.
China’s People’s Liberation Army announced the decision to employ its satellites in the search operations on Tuesday. China has been closely monitoring and assisting with the search operations as about two-thirds of the missing jet’s passengers were Chinese citizens.
The plane, a Boeing 777-200ER bound for Beijing, left Malaysian capital Kuala Lumpur shortly after midnight local time on Saturday 8 March and was expected to land in Beijing at 6:30am the same day. However, controllers lost contact with the plane after about two hours of flight before it entered Vietnamese airspace.
Despite some early sightings of oil slicks and objects floating in the sea, presumed to be parts of the aircraft debris, no evidence has yet been obtained about what had happened to the jet.
Ten countries have joined the search operations, employing cutting-edge technology including a US Lockheed Martin P-3C long-range search aircraft that had flown in from its base in Okinawa, Japan.
The fleet of Chinese satellites will also foster the search teams’ communication channels and will provide accurate weather information.
China will also strengthen the Beidou navigation system's satellite monitoring capabilities to "provide reliable navigation for the rescue operations and communication support".
According to latest information, Malaysia's military might have tracked the missing Malaysia Airlines jetliner by radar over the Strait of Malacca, far from where it last made contact with civilian air traffic control off the country's east coast.
Theories behind the jet’s disappearance include a terrorist attack or hijack.
The plane involved in the incident, the Boeing 777-200ER, had a flawless safety record until July 2013 when an Asiana Airlines operated aircraft crashed during landing at the San Francisco Airport. However, the accident, killing three people, was attributed to pilot error.
View a series of infographics about the search for missing flight MH370