The hunt for missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 is on track to cost hundreds of millions of dollars, becoming the most expensive search in aviation history with 26 countries contributing planes, ships, submarines and satellites to the international effort.
A month into the search for the jet, estimates compiled by Reuters show that at least $44 million has already been spent on the deployment of military ships and aircraft in the Indian Ocean and South China Sea by Australia, China, the United States and Vietnam. The figure is based on defence force statistics on available hourly costs of various assets, estimates by defence analysts and costs reported by the Pentagon.
Read MoreTimeline of Flight MH370
The figure for the first month of the search is already about equal to the official 32 million euros ($44 million) spent in searches lasting several months spread over a two-year time frame for Air France's Flight AF447, which crashed into the Mid-Atlantic in 2009.
Just as salvage experts said the actual costs for the Air France operation could have been three or four times higher than the official figure, the bill for the current search is expected to run into hundreds of millions of dollars.
The $44 million estimate for MH370 does not cover all the defense assets being used by countries including Britain, France, New Zealand and South Korea, nor numerous other costs such as civilian aircraft, accommodation for hundreds of personnel and expenses for intelligence analysts worldwide.