Can you believe neither Malaysian nor Thai radars saw the Malaysia Airlines MH370 crashing?

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 might have flown for some time (from 2 to 5 hours, depending on the reports and sources) before disappearing. Provided this is true, why did nobody see a possible “renegade” plane wandering from South China Sea to the Indian Ocean?

The end of the Boeing 777-200 9M-MRO has been a mystery immediately after the news that it had disappeared while enroute from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing spread.

We have drawn several theories about the fate of MH370 since the first (and for the moment only) confirmed details of the flight (those about the last ADS-B signals collected by the stations) were released.

Regardless of their chances to depict the final moments of the Malaysia Airlines flight, the various scenarios (hijacking, suicide, terrorist attack, bomb, emergency, etc.) remain valid until the wreckage or at least some debris are found (by the way, those shown in Chinese satellite images did not belong to the doomed plane).

Anyway, in the last few hours, it seems that SAR (Search And Rescue) forces are no-longer looking for any sign of the B777 somewhere to the northeast of Malaysia, where it was last seen by (civil) radars, but on the other side of the peninsula, in the Strait of Malacca.

Indeed, based on some of the latest (once again) unconfirmed reports, the aircraft may have flown some hours westbound before crashing somewhere between Malaysia, the Andaman and the Indian Ocean.

Provided this is true, the question is: why did nobody see and try to intercept it?

Here’s the weird thing: a civilian plane has disappeared. It’s no longer visible on radars, does not respond to radio calls. Almost vanished.

The first thing that comes to my mind is the 9-11 scenario. Sept. 11 has taught the world air forces that the new threat is that of “renegade planes”.

Renegade planes are aircraft, possibly civil wide bodies, hijacked and used for suicide attacks. Since 2001, the majority of the air arms around the world have armed aircraft ready to intercept and if needed shoot down renegade planes (unless they are out of business hours….)

That said it’s extremely difficult to believe that no Malaysian military radar saw anything, especially since, amid the contradictory statements, the country’s civil and military authorities have said that the plane may have turned back and reached the Strait of Malacca, where even U.S. Navy forces are amassing to look for the missing plane.

In order to reach the other side of the peninsula, the MH370 would have to fly over mainland Malaysia or Thailand, most probably not too far from coastal radars and interceptor bases.

Ok, it might have been quite low, with no transponder code etc, but military radars are designed and built to work in a different way from civilian ones: they have to look for non-cooperative targets (you can’t expect an enemy plane to attack you with the transponder switched on for you to see it in advance!)

So, unless Royal Thai Air Force and/or Royal Malaysian Air Force are completely unprepared to deal with renegade planes and enemy bombers (because untrained? poorly equipped?), or the story that the civil Boeing 777 overflew mainland Malaysia or Thailand is at least odd.

I’m not conspiracy theories fan but, if the “cross country” is confirmed, we have to list the shot down by an interceptor plane among all the possible root causes of the end of MH370.

All the articles about MH370 can be read here (scroll down).

Top image credit: Ottawa Citizen


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About David Cenciotti
David Cenciotti is a journalist based in Rome, Italy. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviationist”, one of the world’s most famous and read military aviation blogs. Since 1996, he has written for major worldwide magazines, including Air Forces Monthly, Combat Aircraft, and many others, covering aviation, defense, war, industry, intelligence, crime and cyberwar. He has reported from the U.S., Europe, Australia and Syria, and flown several combat planes with different air forces. He is a former 2nd Lt. of the Italian Air Force, a private pilot and a graduate in Computer Engineering. He has written five books and contributed to many more ones.