For almost the last 50 years, the venerable P-3 Orion performed anti-sub duties. It’s long overdue replacement, the P-8A Poseidon finally reached Initial Operational Capability (IOC) last year. Even though there are only a few deployed to the PACOM AOR, they have been thrown into the search for MH-370 over the Indian Ocean. I had dealt a little bit with basing issues for them when I was in Hawaii (no room at K-Bay), but had not really looked into their stats and what a huge improvement they were over the P-3s.
Know when you fly a newer 737 and the emergency card (you do read the emergency card, right?) says 737-8/900? Well, this plane actually fits that description perfectly since it has the body of a -800, but the wings of a -900. Besides the obvious improvement of being a jet vice a prop job, the sensing gear in this plane make it probably the best thing that could be employed in the search for a downed jet. Besides sonar for pinging the depths, it carries sophisticated infrared sensors to pick up the heat differences between other materials and the ocean temp. I watched on the national news tonight how they will search high, and then swoop down to 500 feet to make a close scan. That would be a great ride to be skimming the sea in a jet like this!