A 15-member U.S. military team flew to Laos Tuesday to begin digging for the remains of two American airmen missing in action for more than 22 years, U.S. officials said.

The excavation is the first U.S.-Lao joint effort since 1986 to find some of the 549 Americans missing in action and still unaccounted for in Laos.

Two C-130 military transport planes with the 15-member team aboard left Bangkok Tuesday morning for a site in southern Laos between northeastern Thailand and central Vietnam, a U.S. Embassy official said.