Asia-Pacific News

Cost of hunt for Malaysia Airlines jet reaches $44 million

Pings may lead to Flight 370

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.

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 andVietnam.

Royal New Zealand Air Force P3 Orion co-pilot Squadron Leader Brett McKenzie flies the plane while searching for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, over the Indian Ocean on March 31, 2014.
Rob Griffith | AFP | Getty Images

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The figure is based on defense force statistics on available hourly costs of various assets, estimates by defence analysts and costs reported by the Pentagon.

Authorities say best lead yet for Malaysia flight

The figure for the first month of the search is already about equal to the official $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 Atlantic Ocean in 2009.

Read MoreSearch for missing Malaysia jet to move to sea floor

The $44 million estimate for MH370 does not cover all the defence 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.

Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott, whose country is leading the search, and his Malaysian counterpart, Najib Razak, have repeatedly said the cost of the search is not an issue.

—By NBC News