The Defense Department has committed more than $7 million over the past 30 days in support of search operations for missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, a Pentagon spokesman said here today.

Army Col. Steven Warren told reporters the department committed about $7.3 million over the 30-day period from March 8 to April 8 in support of search operations for the missing airliner.

“This includes the cost of our ships, helicopters and planes involved in the search,” he said. “Within that $7.3 million is also the contract for the underwater surveillance equipment — that’s $3.6 million.”

The Boeing 777-200 aircraft disappeared March 8 shortly after leaving Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, bound for Beijing. The U.S. Navy joined search and rescue teams from Malaysia, Singapore and Vietnam for the missing aircraft the same day.

Warren noted the $3.6 million includes the costs for the contracted Bluefin-21 autonomous underwater vehicle. That figure also covers the cost of the vehicle’s 10 contractor-operators, he added.

For the past several weeks, Warren said, the department’s main cost has been the $4,000-per-flight-hour operating cost for the P-8 Poseidon aircraft being used in the search.

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