It has been exactly one week since the unfortunate crash of Air Asia Flight 8501 (QZ8501/ AWQ 8501). As of press time, only 34 of 162 passengers have been recovered and the main fuselage of the Airbus A320 has yet to be found. Russia is one of the latest country to join in the search, and below is a quick summary of the various countries and assets they have brought to the table:
Indonesia: Leading the search effort, the Indonesian Navy (TNI-AU) has deployed numerous vessels and aircraft to the accident scene. KRI Bung Tomo was replaced by sister ship KRI Usman Harun, whose namesake cause much displease from Singapore. Whether it is pure ops coincidence or testing water, TNI-AL of course has all the right to deploy as many assets as possible in this humanitarian operation. The team from search agency BARSANAS are experienced, myself meeting them a couple of times during SAR exercises, and not to mentioned knowing the waters in their backyard.
Singapore: One of the first foreign country to deploy ships and assets to the area, the RSN has sent the LST RSS Persistence, corvette RSS Valour, MV Swift Rescue and mine sweeper RSS Kallang. Swift Rescue is designed as a submarine rescue vessel with her organic ROVs and naval divers, which will bring retrieval of underwater debris and black boxes extremely handy. RSS Kallang was part of a similar recovery operation of MI 185 in 1997 and her new towed sonar array will be another asset in assisting in scanning sea bed for aircraft parts. Note that the Autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) is deployed from RSS Persistence, via airlift. This may suggest the LST with plug and play capabilities or her systems is already prepared for numerous operational scenarios.
Australia and New Zealand: The nations from Down Under sent a P-3 Orion each. The two nations were active in the search of MH370 and the P-3 Orion is an extremely sturdy maritime patrol aircraft even in inclement weather.
United States Navy: Destroyer USS Sampson was first deployed after arriving Singapore on December 29. Her large complement and and vessel allowed longer endurance on station. Littoral Combat Ship USS Fort Worth join her after the New Year. With quick deployable RHIBs the LCS can quickly access the waters and I will be looking closely if the LCS is utilising the MQ-8B Fire Scout for search duties.
Russia: An amphibious plane, the Beriev Be-200 arrived a couple of days ago with a team of divers. The nature of the Be-200 will be extremely useful in operations like this, which long endurance of search, and the ability to land on water for recovery or rescue. Indonesia has been considering purchasing the plane last month, before the accident.
I wish the multi national team in the Java Sea smooth winds and godspeed in their search efforts and bringing the tragic incident to a close as soon as possible.