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Whitley firm, Guard assist in jetliner search

The continuing search for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 will now include a few local ties.

A Columbia City defense contractor is supplying equipment to be used in attempts to find the plane – which likely went down in the Indian Ocean last month – and the local National Guard is helping load that equipment this morning.

Ultra Electronics-UnderSea Sensor Systems Inc., which partners with Sparton Corp. under the Sonobuoy TechSystems Joint Venture, is supplying units of sonobuoys to the Australian Air Force, which is assisting in finding the plane.

Sonobuoys are dropped from aircraft in a grid pattern and once in the water self-deploy a hydrophone – or water microphone – to listen to transmitter signals, according to a media release from the Indiana Air National Guard 122nd Fighter Wing.

Ultra Electronics-UnderSea Sensor Systems has existed for more than 50 years and used to be owned by Magnavox, according to The Journal Gazette archives.

A company spokesman did not return a phone call Friday.

According to the company’s website, it also supplies the U.S. Navy with sonobuoys.

A Royal Australian Air Force cargo plane is scheduled to land at the 122nd base today to pick up more than 1,000 sonobuoys.

Airmen with the 122nd will provide ramp operation support as well as logistical support for the cargo, which is more than 26,000 pounds, according to base officials.

The cargo will be flown to Australia and the equipment will be used to conduct maritime search operations, according to a media release.