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One of the reasons adduced to support the theory that MH370 was purposefully flown is its maneuvering.  Here is the supposed track of MH370.



Now here is the same track overlaid on the civil radar coverage apparently taken from Skyvector.  It is suggested that the track shows an aircraft trying to stay out of radar coverage.



You don’t have to buy this analysis. First of all, I’m not sure the waypoints are accurate. They are only as reported in the press. Second, it is far from certain the route taken minimizes exposure to primary radar, which the putative bandit would have been trying to avoid at this time.

But it give one a sense of the reasoning behind the claim that a malevolent or at least purposeful intelligence was guiding the motions of MH370 that fateful night.

Reuters writes that “whatever truly happened to missing Malaysian Airlines (MASM.KL) flight MH370, its apparently unchallenged wanderings through Asian skies point to major gaps in regional – and perhaps wider – air defenses. More than a decade after al Qaeda hijackers turned airliners into weapons on September 11, 2001, a large commercial aircraft completely devoid of stealth features appeared to vanish with relative ease.”

The world to a large extent relies on trust. Few of us are prepared to cope with a bad guy showing up at our door right now, protected for the most part by the low probability of anyone actually doing that.  In the unlikely event that said bad guy actually does appear at our doorstep, most of us will be S.O.L.

I once did a tour of the museum featuring the World War 2 defenses of Sydney Harbor. The guides explained that in preparation for possible war with Japan, the Australian Navy had laid an “antisubmarine indicator loop” across the harbor entrance, six of them in fact, which if trespassed by a sub would read something like this:

Enemy sub

Enemy sub

It didn’t work. On May 31, 1942 not one, but three Japanese midget subs crossed the loops. And nobody noticed. They were all dismissed as false positives.  So the subs went on their merry way and blew up stuff.

Sunday evening, 31 May 1942, was dark and cloudy with the first layers of detection being the outer and inner indicator loops at the Heads, although the first mentioned was out of action. A flotilla of five large Japanese submarines off Broken Bay released three midget submarines. The signature of an inward crossing was recorded on an indicator loop at 2000. It was made by Midget No. 27 (from I-27) but at the time, owing to ferry and other traffic over the loops, its significance was not recognised. Fifteen minutes later a Maritime Services Board nightwatchman sighted a suspicious object caught in the anti-submarine net and investigated it in a skiff, before reporting it to the patrol boat NAP Yarroma at about 2130. Yarroma signalled to Sydney’s Naval Headquarters on Garden Island. ‘Object is submarine. Request permission to open fire’. Five minutes later demolition charges in Midget No. 27 were fired by its crew, destroying the craft. Meanwhile, at 2148, another inward crossing was recorded on theindicator loop (later identified as Midget No. 28 from I-24) again taken as of no special significance.

The subs sank the Manly Ferry, which had been converted into a kind naval auxiliary. Fortunately or unfortunately, the heavy cruiser USS Chicago was visiting in harbor. Nothing daunted the Chicago opened fire on the enemy — but it turned out to be Pinchgut Island, which took a number of five inch hits from Chicago.

The man giving the tour said that the operators had seen so many false alarms that when the real subs showed up they ignored them. Perhaps it is like that for all rare events. Because real attacks happen so infrequently we are conditioned to assume everything is normal, even when it is not. And if the feared boogeyman eventually comes, we’re likely to be in the middle of making a peanut butter sandwich.

Having established the possibility that detection systems are not always perfect, we can examine one idea doing the conspiracy rounds. Rather than crossing India, the conjecture is that  MH370 went up through the Bay of Bengal (where the USN’s P-8 Poseidon’s are now searching) and made landfall at Bangladesh and there on to Bhutan and perhaps on to Central Asia.

The problem with that idea is there are a paucity of air routes to tailgate behind.  However Keith Ledgerwood thinks he found it the plane MH370 snuck in behind: SIA68. Using Skyvector, Ledgerwood writes:

I quickly realized that SIA68 was in the immediate vicinity as the missing MH370 flight at precisely the same time. Moreover, SIA68 was en-route on a heading towards the same IGREX waypoint on airway P628 that the Malaysian military radar had shown MH370 headed towards at precisely the same time.

It became apparent as I inspected SIA68’s flight path history that MH370 had maneuvered itself directly behind SIA68 at approximately 17:00UTC over the next 15 minutes had been following SIA68. All the pieces of my theory had been fitting together with the facts that have been publically released and I began to feel a little uneasy.

Singapore Airlines Flight 68 proceeded across the Andaman Sea into the Bay of Bengal and finally into India’s airspace. From there it appears to have proceeded across India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and finally Turkmenistan before proceeding onward across Europe to its final destination of Barcelona, Spain.

At what point did MH370 hypothetically break away from SIA68’s coattails? Did it continue across India? Or did it make landfall in Bangladesh? In any event, neither Bangladesh nor Bhutan is likely to have much of an air defense. That’s what Jeff Wise at Slate thinks has happened. Here’s a graph that examines that possibility.

Shangri-la Express

Shangri-la Express

A New Straits Times story citing “government sources” reports that “investigators poring over MH370’s flight data had said the plane had flown low and used ‘terrain masking’ as it flew over the Bay of Bengal and headed north towards land, the NST reported.”

Officials, who formed the technical team, were looking into the possibility that whoever was piloting the jet at that time had taken advantage of the busy airways over the Bay of Bengal and stuck to a commercial route to avoid raising the suspicion of those manning primary (military) radars, the paper said.

“The person who had control over the aircraft has a solid knowledge of avionics and navigation and left a clean track. It passed low over Kelantan, that was true,” the NST quoted an anonymous official as saying.

“Terrain masking” refers to an ability to position an aircraft so there is natural earth hiding it from the radio waves sent from the radar system. It is a technique mostly used in aerial combat where military pilots would fly at extremely low elevations upon normally hilly or mountainous terrain to “mask” their approach.

Could the 777 have gone low level through the Himalayas?  Then west into Pakistan’s backdoor? Or did it perhaps head for some prepared landing strip?  From other accounts it is suggested the hijacked plane ascended to 45,000 feet to kill the passengers and foil any attempt to retake the aircraft. Normally anyone posing these scenarios would have his head examined.  But the mystery is already into tinfoil hat country, so why not?

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