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US Navy black box locator joins search for missing Malaysian plane

The United States Navy is moving one of its high-tech Black Box detectors closer to the search area for a missing Malaysia Airlines plane in remote seas off the Australian coast, bolstering hopes wreckage of the plane may be found soon.

Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 vanished from civilian radar screens less than an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur with 239 people on board on a flight to Beijing on March 8.

(Read more: Hope of breakthrough in missing jet search)

The so-called Towed Pinger Locator will be crucial in finding the black box of the missing jetliner if a debris field is established by an Australian-led international search team scouring an area in the southern Indian Ocean some 2,500 km (1,550 miles) southwest of Perth.

"If debris is found we will be able to respond as quickly as possible since the battery life of the black box's pinger is limited," Commander Chris Budde, U.S. Seventh Fleet Operations Officer, said in an emailed statement.

This handout Satellite image made available by the AMSA (Australian Maritime Safety Authority) shows a map of the areas searched between March 18 and March 20, 2014 for missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370.Getty Images

Attention and resources in the search for the Boeing 777 have shifted in recent days from an initial focus north of the equator to an increasingly narrowed stretch of icy sea in the southern Indian Ocean.

Chinese and Japanese military aircraft were joining a 10-strong international fleet of planes scouring the area for the first time on Monday.

A flotilla of Chinese ships, including the icebreaker Xuelong, or Snow Dragon, is also making its way south.

Budde stressed that bringing in the black box detector, which is towed behind a vessel at slow speeds and can pick up "pings" from a black box to a maximum depth of 20,000 feet, was a precautionary measure.

(Read more: Area of Malaysia plane search now size of Australia)

Similarly, Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss stressed the challenges of the search.

"It's a lot of water to look for just perhaps a tiny object," Truss told Australian Broadcasting Corp. Radio.

"Today we expect the weather to deteriorate and the forecast ahead is not that good, so it's going to be a challenge, but we will stick at it," he said.

Two Chinese military Ilyushin IL-76 aircraft, two Australian P3 Orions and two ultra-long range civilian jets were in the early search party on Monday. Another ultra-long range jet, a U.S. Navy P8 Poseidon and two Japanese P3 Orions were due to depart later in the day.

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