Pentagon: Navy Aircraft Joins Search for Missing Air France Jet
News in Balance:
WASHINGTON, June 2, 2009 -- A U.S. Navy aircrew today joined the international search for survivors and debris from an Air France aircraft that went missing yesterday off the Brazilian coast, U.S. Southern Command officials announced.
A U.S. Navy P-3C Orion and its 21 crewmembers reported to Augusto Severo Airfield in Natal, Brazil, yesterday and joined search operations for Air France Flight 447 today, officials said.
The crew deployed from its forward operating location in Comalapa Air Base, El Salvador, where it was supporting regional illicit trafficking detection and reporting operations, officials said.
U.S. Southern Command dispatched the aircraft and crew after Brazilian officials accepted the command's offer to assist with the search.
Southcom also directed a combat rescue officer from Joint Task Force-Bravo, located at Soto Cano Air Base in Honduras, to Recife, Brazil. There, he will help the Brazilian Rescue Coordination Center coordinate rescue assets, officials said.
Air traffic controllers lost contact with the Air France Airbus A330-200 aircraft during a severe lightning storm after takeoff from Rio de Janiero. The aircraft, bound for Paris, disappeared with 228 passengers aboard.
A Brazilian air force crew reported today that they had spotted debris floating in the South Atlantic that could have come from the aircraft.
(Report from a U.S. Defense Department news release.)
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