What if MH370 was (mistakenly or purposely) shot down?

We can’t rule out anything. Not even the most unbelievable of explanations: that Malaysia Airlines MH370’s Boeing 777 was downed by missile.

Since Mar. 7, when Boeing 777 9M-MRO flying from Kuala Lumpur has vanished enroute to Beijing, we have analysed all the possible scenarios that could explain the end of Malaysia Airlines MH370 flight.

With contradictory information released and denied on a daily basis, we can only update the list of theories and their likeliness.

None of the theories emerged so far seem to address all the mystery surrounding the plane and its 239 people on board: the theory that the aircraft suffered a smoke in the cockpit, does not explain why the pilots shut down the transponder while turning towards the nearest landing strip; the one about the suicide does not explain why the aircraft reportedly flew for 7 hours before eventually crashing somewhere. And so on.

These are just a few of the oddities you can find in any scenario drawn so far.

Regardless of the specific theories, there are some more things that are really hard to explain: for instance, it’s unclear how the MH370 managed to remain invisible to several air defense radars for so much time; the reason why Malaysian authorities did not declare until a couple of days ago that the last known position of the plane (known since the beginning) was over the Strait of Malacca, while some 100 aircraft and ships belonging to more than a dozen nations were involved in a massive search and rescue mission in the Gulf of Thailand.

Nor is it clear why Thai authorities waited 10 days before confirming that they had spotted a plane (most probably the Malaysia Airlines B777) flying westwards moments after MH370 had its transponder switched off.

In a previous post which listed all the “active scenarios”, we mentioned the (unlikely but not impossible) theory that MH370 could have been shot down.

Since then, we’ve received several emails and comments, and talked with a few other journalists who believe that, there are still some chances that the Malaysian Boeing 777 was shot down some time during its 7 hour flight.

Even if it’s at least far fetched, if we are ready to accept that an hijacked plane shadowed another wide body to escape detection by radars, something that would be difficult to execute and thus unlikely, we can’t but explore the scenario of the hijacked plane shot down by an air-to-air or surface-to-air missile.

Especially because several details would perfectly fit this theory.

Even if we don’t know the reasons, we know that MH370 went off radars and turned west because of a deliberate action by a skilled pilot.

Although they kept this information confidential for too much time, we know for certain that both Malaysian and Thai defense radar saw a primary target flying towards the Strait of Malacca.

Thereafter the plane disappears.

It may have taken a northern or a western route, to seek asylum, to land on a remote strip, to conduct a suicide attack, to deliver the plane to some terror organization. As already mentioned before, whatever route it took, the aircraft had all the features of the renegade plane (a civil wide body, hijacked and possibly used for a suicide attack) and as such was a threat to any nearby country’s air defense.

What if the plane, at low altitude headed towards a sensitive target in the region forcing a reaction by that country’s interceptors or surface-to-air missile batteries?

F-22 crosshairs

Image credit: U.S. Navy

This would explain why some governments have been reluctant to provide details or have released contradictory information in what seemed to be a sort-of cover up.

What if all this resistance was due to the need to cover an error or an action difficult to explain to the international community? What if the incoherent flow or information was purposely arranged to divert public attention away from the real cause of the crash until evidence was hidden?

We’ll let you elaborate more. Conspiracy theorists will be able to find many more details that perfectly fit this scenario (including SATCOM pings, ACARS, flight time, etc) and even point to specific targets (Petronas Towers, US base at Diego Garcia, are among those already suggested by several sources, experts, internet trolls etc.). History has taught us that airspace violations have some times ended with the downing of a civil plane.

We mentioned it just because we have discussed almost all possible scenarios and we can’t completely rule out this one until the wreckage (or the plane) is found and truth about the mysterious MH370 will eventually emerge.

Image credit: Daily Mail / Sky Vector

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


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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.


  1. I have been thinking about this possibilty for a while now too…Korean Air and Iran Air have both had it happen to their aircraft as well. In this day and age, what would you do with an uncommunicative, unknown aircraft in your airspace? Of course we will need much more data before reaching any conclusions, but it is an interesting theory that should be followed up on

    • My first thought was that this plane had been shot down by the US. We we will never know, the cover up started the minute the plane disappeared.

  2. Good point. Nothing can be discounted at this point. I would mention though that debris should have been likely spotted in the sea by now unless the search area is purposefully being ignored, I certainly don’t trust M. Government.

  3. Shootdown theory is contradicted by the 5 to 7 hours of ACARS pings.

    Early on (T+3) there was a “report” shown in facsimile from some Australian oil rig worker on a Vietnamese platform in the South China Sea who claims to have seen a bright ball of flame for several seconds on a bearing from his oil right that would be almost exactly at the last reported point of the flight before the transponder came off. It was published in the press, I believe in the British garbage tabloids, in full including the guys supposed email address and passport number! I think this was likely made up garbage, but for what purpose did someone make this up?

    I have to say that some trigger happy idiot at the intersection of Malaysian, Indonesian, Philippino, Vietnamese, and Chinese new South China Sea ADIZ could have done it just like some idiot Russian did KAL007. Maybe the reports of ACARS pings are a false flag to cover up the incompetence of the offending country.

    But I doubt it.

    I would like the round trip time of flight for ALL the ACARS pings to the aircraft ACARS transponder on MH370. This information has been withheld, so there is great inconsistency with our public information; essentially garbage in garbage out. This makes me suspect that one or more governments are in on it, or that it is a terror plot, or that they have a bead on the hijackers and don’t want to let the information out before they capture or kill them (and maybe rescue the hostages). Time will tell.

    • the idea with ALL the acars pings is interesting! They would show the different distances to the immarsat satellite, along those 7 hours of (presumed) flight. this would not solve the mistery, but help a bit to draw a more consistent thing.

      Imagine, the plane would have (e.g.) landed after 4 hours, but did not shut down his electrical system, and pinged another 3 hours to the sattellite. But this could be interpreted also that it flew on the 40° circle somewhere… As the pinging times cannot tell if the plane IS travelling “equidistant” to the satellite or not, in case it is on the same spot. A lot of other scenarios like this could be imaginable. So this information would not be immediately relevant, but it could help – perhaps.

      Anyway, if the various pinging times would be always slightly different, this would help more, probably.

      On the other had, we should not expect those authorities to make public all the small details they are working on. Do not forget that the Air France plane (2009) was found only after two years. At the beginning, everybody was phantasising about scenarios, after a while it was forgotten. two years later it was found and explained thoroughly (Nothing “mysterious” happened, except mistakes of the pilot combined with technical failures and bad weather).

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