An underwater drone is to be deployed into the Indian Ocean as the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 continues.
The Bluefin-21 drone will scour the ocean floor in an attempt to located wreckage of the aircraft, which disappeared on 8 March.
In comments reported by the Sydney Morning Herald, former Australian Defence chief Angus Houston said: “The deployment of the autonomous underwater vehicle has the potential to take us a further step towards visual identification, since it offers a possible opportunity to detect debris from the aircraft on the ocean floor.”
The drone uses a side-scan sonar and its first 24-hour mission will commence on Monday evening.
It will cover an area of 40 square kilometres at a depth of 4,500 metres, though Houston cautioned: “It may be very difficult to find something.”
He also revealed an oil slick had been detected in the search area and that a sample has been collected for analysis.
The flight, bound for Beijing from Kuala Lumpur, had 239 people on board.
Electronic signals consistent with transmissions from a black box were recorded in the area last week but none have been heard since, leading to speculation the battery has expired.