Commander, Patrol and Reconnaissance Wing (CPRW) 11 Capt. Sean Liedman held flight line news conferences March 18 and 21 at NAS Jacksonville to update media on Malaysian Air Flight MH370.
"The latest P-8 Poseidon missions flown by VP-16 in Australia March 23 did not discover any new information regarding the whereabouts of Malaysian Air Flight MH370. The search was flown 1,500 miles south and west of Perth Australia; in the vicinity of where the previously reported satellite imagery indicated possible debris," explained Liedman.
"The crew searched an area of 1,200 square miles, which is less than what they searched in their previous missions due to the fact they decreased the track spacing of the ladder search in order to increase the visual probability and protection of small objects in the water."
"I anticipate they will continue to fly one mission per day until the mission is complete or we move on to the next phase of the operation. I would like to underscore that today's results do not indicate mission failure, but rather indicate the daunting challenge of locating small objects in the vast expanse maritime domain," Liedman added.
According to Liedman, this type of search operations is part of the VP-16 deployment cycle.
"VP-16 deployed with six P-8 Poseidons to Okinawa last December where they were postured to respond to incidents such as this. Immediately after the incident, about three weeks ago, they were tasked by the U.S. Navy 7th fleet commander to reposition the aircraft - first to Malaysia, and then to Perth, Australia - where they could execute operations in support of the southern corridor theory," he said.
"The P-8 has the speed, range and endurance necessary to execute a search at a range of 1,500 miles from the nearest land."
When asked to explain how the search was being conducted, he said, "Floating objects in the maritime domain move around significantly due to wind, current and wave action, which complicates the search. We will continue to search until the mission is complete or we move on to the next phase of the search till more information comes to light to refine our search area.
"It takes the airplane three hours to transit to on station and can remain on station, executing search operations for approximately three to four hours before it returns to the base in Perth."
"Search operations will be conducted during daylight hours only due to the challenge of detecting small objects in the maritime domain. The crew will continue to fly one mission per day during day light hours."
"VP-16 is executing operations in conjunction with allies and partners in the region. There has been reports that Australian P-3s and New Zealand P-3s are operating alongside VP-16s' P-8 in the region. It truly is an international search effort," Liedman stated.
When asked how many P-8s were actually deployed to assist with in search he said, "VP-16 has six P-8 Poseidon's on deployment in Okinawa; they detached one P-8 to Perth Australia to participate in search operations."
When asked about what other capabilities the aircraft had that could aid in the search he replied, "In addition to the range, speed and endurance that the Poseidon brings, it also has an integrated sensor suite with high definition sensors such as a radar that can detect small objects in the maritime domain. Additionally, it has an advanced communication suite that can transmit imagery from any of those sensors off board via satellite communication links to higher headquarters."