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. “Malaysia Airlines search: Jet already had turned before co-pilot’s ‘good night’ message”???

  2. Any ‘good’ criminal knows not to flee the scene but to stay around and clean it up asap. Malaysia sent her investigators straight up to the coast off Vietnam even though the latter had insisted that it did not enter its airspace and they were there for a few days. Since the US has boasted that its new laser was ready to go on to warships a few months ago- and it could be operated by just one person- that flight could so easily have been hit by a laser-which, according to the US navy, is not visible to the naked eye. The pilots would never have known what had hit them. And as for coming clean-the US wouldn’t know how to tell the truth- especially since most of the citizens on board were Chinese citizens. So while Malaysia distracts the world- the US cleans up its mess. And just who is going to stop a US ship and inspect its contents?

  3. ”there are still some chances that the Malaysian Boeing 777 was shot down some time during its 7 hour flight”
    Was that 2, 3 or 4 hours into the 7 hour flight that it was shot down?
    I’m happy to discount that theory, unless it was shot down after it responded to the last satellite ping at 8.11am. But after that amount of time it might have just run out of fuel & crashed or actually landed somewhere.

    • What if it was shot down around the time the transponder was disabled and the signal put out by the engine was simulated by another aircraft?

    • looks like it is hijacked by 2 passanger with 2 fake passport, they try to landed it somewhere in west parts of australia with the assumtion of 800km/h (crusing speed of mh370) can reach 4000km range. But australian air defence intercept and shot down the poor plane as they ever do to ships asylums seeker before.

  4. I thought of this too, but then why was a satellite still picking up signal from it hours later, on a trajectory that suggests continued movement, even if it’s unclear if that movement was north or south? That would require a pre-planned conspiracy to fake the signal from the plane … or that the satellite wasn’t actually picking up this plane.

    • well, the pinging theory appeared some days after the event. So theoretically, Immarsat would have time to fake those pings. Of course it is very absurd, but theoretically, the pings are the best idea to cover up everything, in case the plane was shot down quite somewhere else, to divert the search in the wrong areas.
      Imagine the plane really flew over the Maldives (as reported yesterday), and it flew in the direction of the Diego G. base. There, it could have been brought down by the military, quite legitimate, as it did not respond to warnings. Now imagine the difficulty of USA to explain that. They would loose influence in the whole Asia and have problems with China. Now Immarsat is owned by the British. As the Islands of Diego. It could have been a collaboration.
      But of course this idea bases on purely nothing but just a series of very crazy ideas (first, the plane is diverted by a secretly extremist pilot, than the plane shadows the SQ68 plane, flies over India. Then it turns left to the south, flies over the Maldives and reaches final destination: Diego, where the crazy pilot intends to do so something crazy – whatever… They shoot it down. Later they think of a credible theory that would mislead the search in an absolutely different direction, so the wreckage will never be found. And the conspirationist theory is ready :) . But I don’t like conspirationisms – usually they are all wrong and naive, if not directly stupid and ignoring a lot of other evident facts (like the one that the 9/11 towers were exploded from within, and not because they were hit by two planes…).

  5. Nice speculation, but the airplane flew on for nearly 7 hours (proven by Inmarsat logs), which makes it highly unlikely it was shot down, but rather ran out of fuel.
    The theory where an electrical fire broke out on the plane is far more likely. This burned the communications systems circuits, pilot tried to turn the airplane to fly back (or possibly land on Pulau Pinang airport, the pilot knew this airport well), the pilot, crew and the rest of the passengers got knocked out by the fire/smoke, airplane flew on on auto pilot untill it ran out of fuel and crash, almost certainly, somewhere in the seas. The question is rather where, in nearly 7 hours it could have gotten anywhere. Providing the plane did not change course after it turned and the data Inmarsat provided and the last known flying speed, wouldn’t there be a way to limit the searching area? I don’t think there is any point to look on land, so the North route seems a definite no-no. They should rather focus all of their search teams on the seas.
    Too much conspiracy theories has been made, it’s clear the Malaysians have no idea what they are dealing with or how to solve this crisis, so information should be carefully handled.

    • The fire just decided just to burn only the comms and not the auto pilot equipment or any other equipment. With everybody knocked out the fire decided to die down by itself. Strange? It must be an intelligent fire…. LOL

    • In fact, if the airplane was attacking Diego Garcia via Maldives, it would have been flying for an extra 9-10 hrs. This is within the parameters being used for the current search off Western Australia. The catch is that most of this flight would have to have been low and slow (~200kts), trying to avoid radar. The theory cannot be dismissed on the basis alone.

      The bigger hurdle for this theory is the satellite analysis. If it is true, Inmarsat were compromised. I find it hard to get my head around that, but after the Snowden revelations, anything is possible.

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