Missing Malaysia Airlines Jet: U.S. Navy Sends Black Box Locator

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The U.S. Navy is sending a device to the Indian Ocean capable of detecting underwater pings sent by an airplane’s black box — a step the Navy describes as a precaution in case the search area is narrowed for Malaysia Airlines Flight 370.

The device, the Towed Pinger Locator, or TPL-25, will be loaded on a plane in New York on Monday for a flight to Perth, Australia.

The TPL-25, which is towed behind a ship at slow speeds, has highly sensitive listening capability and can pick up the pings from a black box up to about 20,000 feet, Cmdr. Chris Budde said in a statement.

It could be helpful if authorities determine that debris spotted by satellites off Australia turns out to be from Flight 370, which vanished March 8.

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel ordered the TPL-25 sent to the area at the request of Malaysian authorities.

— Jim Miklaszewski

The Associated Press contributed to this report.