Two Japanese patrol aircraft to call at Butterworth


KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 20 – A Japanese commander who had helped with the search-and-rescue operation for the missing Malaysia Airlines plane, Flight MH370, will be in charge of two patrol aircraft from the Japan Maritime Self-Defence Force (JMSDF) calling at Butterworth later this week.

Cdr Hideki Jufuku and 37 crew will be on board the two P-3C aircraft that will be at the Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) base there on Feb 20 and 21 for airport call and replenishment of supplies, the Embassy of Japan in Malaysia said in a statement in Kuala Lumpur, Thursday.

“The P-3Cs have been actively taking part in anti-piracy operations (search operations) off the coast of Somalia and in the Gulf of Aden since October 2014. The crew have carried out their mission under challenging temperatures of over 50 degrees Centigrade,” the embassy said.

The statement said this would be the first time that the Japan Self-Defence Force (JSDF) was calling at an RMAF base except for the search-and-rescue (SAR) operation for the missing MH370 last year.

“It is our honour to inform that Cdr Jufuku was the commander for the SAR operation for MH370 in March and April 2014. He and the crew transited at the Subang airbase, and proceeded to the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) Base Pearce to continue the operation,” the embassy said.

Jufuku’s return to Malaysia this time was to mark a symbolic event for future relations between the JSDF and RMAF as well as between Japan and Malaysia, the statement added.