US Has Spent $2.5 Million in Search for Malaysian Plane

The Pentagon said today that it has spent $2.5 million so far in the search for the missing Malaysian airliner and has set aside $4 million to help find the jetliner.

The U.S. funding would pay for a search into early April.

The U.S. military has been involved in the search for Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 since early on in the search efforts, deploying the destroyers USS Kidd and USS Pinckney to help sweep the waters and several surveillance planes.

Pentagon spokesman Col. Steve Warren said today that $2.5 million has been spent on the operating costs for the U.S. military ships and planes involved in the search. Warren said "obviously some of that cost is money that would have already been spent. The Kidd was already out there operating."

Both destroyers had been redirected from deployments to the South China Sea and a P-3 Orion surveillance plane came from its permanent base in Okinawa.

A U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon aircraft was sent to Kuala Lumpur from its base in Japan to assist in the search. That aircraft is now operating out of Perth, Australia, as the focus of the search efforts has shifted to the Indian Ocean southwest of Australia.

The USS Kidd was released from the search mission earlier this week after it was moved to the waters of the western Strait of Malacca. The USS Pinckney is currently in Singapore for scheduled repairs.

Warren said the Pentagon has set aside $4 million for the search efforts which should last into early April. There are variables that could affect future costs such as the number of flight hours and potentially any other assets that could be added to the search.

Defense officials said there are no plans to provide further ships or planes to the search effort though they are ready to assist if requested. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke with Malaysia's defense minister today who requested hydrophones used by the Navy for deep water searches. The request is being studied.

Warren said the U.S. will not seek reimbursement from Malaysia for the costs of the search.