French MH370 Investigators Eye “Spoof” Scenario

Interest in MH370 revived earlier this month after next-of-kin Ghislain Wattrelos held a press conference at which he revealed that he had been briefed by French judicial authorities about their investigation into the case. As the UK’s Daily Star reported,

Ghyslain Wattrelos lost his wife Laurence, and two teenage children Hadrien and Ambre when Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 vanished on March 8, 2014, with 239 people on board.

Mr Wattrelos today revealed he was told by the French Gendamarie Air Transport (GTA) team investigating the jet’s disappearance they had found “inconsistencies” in the Malaysian investigation’s official report.

He claimed experts are investigating if navigation data from the missing plane could have been hacked to disguise the route it took before crashing into the ocean.

He also said he had been told several “curious passengers” warranted further investigation – including a Malaysian aeronautics expert seated directly beneath the satcom.

This was of course enormously interesting to me, as I had publicly pointed out in early 2015 that if the plane wasn’t in the southern Indian Ocean, the only conceivable explanation was that hijackers outside the cockpit had managed to perpetrate an extremely sophisticated hack of the satcom in order to make the signals seem like they were coming from a plane heading south when it was actually heading north. This idea met with widespread ridicule at the time, as most experts believed that the plane would certainly be found in the southern Indian Ocean where the satcom signals indicated it had flown. Subsequently, of course, it wasn’t–nearly a quarter billion dollars was spent on a seabed search that covered an area the size of the UK but turned up nothing.

At last, it seemed, the authorities were willing to take my idea seriously.

The Daily Star contacted me for a follow-up article:

[Wise] told Daily Star Online: “This (hacking lead) is an interesting development, because it’s exactly what I’ve been talking about for the last five years or so.

“While I haven’t looked at this particular passenger, the core of the argument I’ve been trying to make is that the Satellite Data Unit, or SDU, has a vulnerability that could be exploited to make the plane look like it went south when it really went north.”

He added: “What I pointed out is, are there any way these signals could have been tampered with?

“Is there some way that someone with ill-intent could have changed them?

“The answer is yes, there actually is a way that it’s physically possible that a person could get into the electronics bay, or directly access the data unit from ceiling of the cabin.

“And they could alter either the inputs into the SDU itself in such a way it would look like the plane was going south when it was going north.

“Do we have any reason to believe that’s the case? I would say yes.

“I think the main and most obvious one is having searched the seabed, based on signals of where the plane went, the plane is not there.”

Inmarsat data has led investigators to believe the plane crashed into the Indian Ocean west of Australia after running out of fuel.

But he has urged a re-analysis of this information, claiming that it could in actual fact have flown north instead.

The radius of one of the “handshakes” runs through Kazakhstan.

And Wise holds Russia as a suspect because of the shooting down of MH17 by a Russian military missile, and how the Kremlin’s annexation of Crimea fell off the news radar following MH370’s disappearance.

He told us: “What’s the motive? I can tell you this was happening in the context of Russia getting a lot of heat for the annexation of Crimea.

“I was on CNN six times a day, and CNN didn’t talk about Crimea anymore, they only talked about MH370 and so it was possible a diversion, a show of dominance.

“Because if I’m right and Russia did take the plane, they completely fooled, ran circles, the western authorities and experts have been completely bamboozled, with their pants caught down.

“I would say, only one other 777 has ever been lost mid-flight, that was the sistership of MH370.

“It was shot down by an operation carried out by the GRU. If you’re a chicken farmer, and you’ve never lost a chicken in 15 years, then you find one of your chickens murdered, and a week later you see a fox jumping over the fence with a chicken in its mouth, what would you think?

“What would be your primary suspect here? The only known cause of 777s coming to grief.”

All of which I stand by. I think the headline was unfortunately sensationalistic and misleading, however: “Plane ‘HIDDEN in Russian base’ as investigators swoop on new ‘hacking’ lead.” I’ve never said that I thought 9M-MRO is hidden on a Russian, and certainly not in all caps–though I am intrigued by the possibility that the plane might have touched down on the remote airstrip at Yubileyniy within the Baikonur Cosmodrome.


243 thoughts on “French MH370 Investigators Eye “Spoof” Scenario”

  1. @all re: flew north scenario: does anyone have any information on the location and ranges of military radar assets along the path Jeff is promoting? (This is a repeat of a question I asked specifically of Jeff several weeks ago; Jeff, if you replied, my apologies for missing it.)

    @all: re: flight plan presented in the final report as MH370’s originally scheduled route: can anyone link me to the very first official release of that routing? Thanks. (This is a repeat of the request I made on the penultimate MH370 thread.)

  2. From the first day there was discussion about the Inmarsat data I remember thinking it was presumptuous of them to conclude that the plane could have only possibly headed south. MH17 only adds to the mystery…..

  3. @JeffWise, this is all extraordinary. Kudos to you for keeping on the tail. I hope the world begins paying attention again.

    Side note: any thoughts on the recent Indonesia plane? From my very quick skimming, this might be a satcom issue as well, but I have to read more closer. Sorry, I know this is off topic.

  4. @Me Ja Yung, Thank you!

    As to the Lion Air crash, it looks really baffling at this point. New plane, good weather, a reasonably well experienced pilot. Doesn’t seem like the satcom would have been an issue, but what could have caused the accident at this point is really unclear. Reportedly investigators have located the black boxes so hopefully we’ll have more information soon.

  5. @JeffWise, it will be very interesting to see how things develop in France, particularly as they support your long-held conclusions. Stunning about the 777s.

    Thank you for your preliminary take on Lion Air.

  6. @Jeff To support a ‘spoofing’ act several conditions seem necessary:

    1. Someone who understands that this can be done, how to do it and have the means to do it. (either in real time onboard the plane or post flight by re-writing data files).

    2. Someone would have to anticipate that investigators would use this technique to reconstruct the flight path.

    I assume there were quite a few people in the first category – especially technical staff at Inmarsat and elsewhere.

    The second category seems more constrained. To understand that, it would be helpful to know when the system began to record the BTO and the BFO data. As I understand it, one of these (I believe the BTO) began to be recorded not long before March 8, 2014.

    Doesn’t that considerably limit the set of people who could have spoofed the data?

  7. “… extremely sophisticated hack …”

    This is absolutely ridiculous.

    There is a first-class investigation conducted by scientists and engineers. There was no evidence and no proof of manipulation of the data.

    The rest are just groundless speculation and conspiracy theories.

  8. @Michael, No one is criticizing the professionalism or good intentions of the accident investigators. The undeniable fact, however, is that their calculation of where the plane would be found turned out to be incorrect. The question that now needs to be answered is: Why? I’ve pointed out one possible flaw in their analysis. It serves no one to simply label this possible flaw as “ridiculous” and turn away without assessing it. If you see an obvious reason why it can be dismissed, please share it.

    @Shadynuk, I am not proposing that the BTO data was spoofed. In fact, I think that it was quite likely that the perpetrators did not know that Inmarsat had begun recording the BTO data, which is why the 7th-arc endpoints derived from BTO data do not overlap much with those derived from BFO data.

  9. @Jeff Yes, I understand that no one is suggesting that the BTO data was altered. The question remains – who could have anticipated that the BFO data would be used to reconstruct the direction of the flight path?

  10. @Shadynuk, You raise an excellent point. To identify this vulnerability would be an impressive feat; to take the further step of exploiting it would be a project of Sputnik-like technical achievement. It’s a mark of my respect for the Russians that I think they could have pulled it off.

    I do think that, once someone realized that navigation information could be unwittingly incorporated into a comms signal and that this information could be faked, I think it would be a no-brainer to assume that investigators would sooner or later figure out that the navigation information existed and work out how to decipher it.

    The further assumption, of course, is that the investigators would be unable to make a second inference, namely that the data could be faked.

  11. @Jeff,

    First, good to see you active again on this topic.

    I’m not ready to point a finger at the Russians, but I think you’ve vastly underestimated their abilities and overestimated the task.

    Russians can hack for the same reason teenagers can hack. The economics of reverse engineering everything improve when there are fewer paying alternatives. They have the engineering skills, but not the employment. There are financial incentives in hacking and scamming that readily lead Russians into hacking everything and they are good at it.

    This is not Sputnik level hack. It’s a 20yo satellite unit, barely secured.

    Nor is it hard to believe that they’d consider all the possible ways of being tracked. Logged or not, every radio signal can be monitored and used to calculate location. Even the most basic preparation for a heist would include careful consideration of how the plane could be tracked. Especially if this was a state job.

    Your Kazakhstan theory was never crazy at all. The only thing surprising is the length everyone went to make it look so difficult.

  12. @Jeff Wise, I’d agree with JS on the lengths a real intelligence operation would go to game every scenario.

    I’d refer, as I previously have, to WWll’s Operation Mincemeat and the great lengths the British went to concoct a “legend,” find a suitable cadaver and dress it and salt its uniform with “pocket litter.” Though abbreviated, even the operation’s Wikipedia entry will leave one marveling at the tradecraft.

    By the way, the dramatization of Mincemeat could have been legitimately called The Plane That Wasn’t There but instead it was called The Man Who Never Was.

  13. @Scott O, Yes, I love the Mincemeat story and included it in The Plane That Wasn’t There. Never assume you’re smarter or more motivated than your enemy.

    @Owen, Yes, I used to hang out backstage with Richard quite a bit. His coincidental meeting with Fariq surely ranks as one of the many remarkable coincidences of the whole saga. I can’t imagine anything sinister about it, though I have observed that one of the few parties to visibly benefit from the plane’s disappearance was CNN…

  14. Ehm, no offense Jeff (and I know that I’m already persona non grata around here), but seriously, the daily star? How low have you sunk…?

    (I am tempted to quip “lower than a Boeing in the Deep Blue Sea but that surely would get me banned for lifetime).

  15. I have now paid the famed daily star a visit and am positively surprised that the modern times have not yet stopped them from delighting their readership with, ahm, “pics”, of females as sleek as, ahm, a modern passenger plane, spreading their, ahem, wings and presenting satellites that are absolutely definitely in those cases, ehm, spoofed…

  16. @Somebody Somewhere (and your other aliases)

    Your gloomy sacrasm is well translated, your cleverness is not.

  17. @Jeff Wise, Scott O.
    An interesting tidbit.

    “On 3 March 2014 a close encounter occurred between a SAS passenger plane taking off from Copenhagen and a Russian reconnaissance aircraft which did not transmit its position 50 miles south east of Malmo. A collision was apparently avoided thanks only to good visibility and the alertness of the passenger plane pilots.”

    The SAS flight SK681 was a 737 plane carrying 132 passengers. It left Copenhagen bound for Rome and “had just taken off
    when it received information that an unidentified craft was in their path” which
    “had not shown up on their in-flight warning system.”

    The Russian Ilyushin 20m military aircraft, used for signals surveillance, came within 100 yards of the commercial plane.

  18. SteveBarratt: “@Peter Norton: A convoluted way of saying the ghost flight theory is much less tenable than it was in the first few months after the disappearance.”

    No, I didn’t make this claim.

    SteveBarratt: “Even in the Malaysian final report 9M-MRO apparently was flown manually after IGARI (at least until it disappeared from primary radar).”

    That really has nothing to do with my comments.

  19. Brock McEwen: “can anyone link me to the very first official release of that routing?”

    Sorry, don’t have that info. :/
    But what is your hunch ?

  20. @Peter: that’s too bad, but thanks for confirming. (Not asking in pursuit of any theory: just keen to use primary sources when referencing all evidence.)

    @all: can anyone else link me to the first official confirmation of MH370’s intended route? Thanks in advance for any assistance you can provide.

  21. From a purely technical standpoint, the northern route theory is believable; after all, no one has found the plane in the Indian Ocean yet.

    However, in terms of the motive and purpose, it is a real struggle to come up with good ideas. First of all, when terrorists, criminals, or rogue governments want to make a show of power, it almost always involves highly publicized claims and displays. After all what’s the point of a display of power if no one knows it was you?

    Does Putin’s Russia order the plane absconded, expecting perhaps that we will figure out by induction that it was them? Historically, this makes very little sense.

    On the other hand, let’s assume that the operation necessarily had to be a secret. What about (or in) MH370 would be so valuable to the Russian government that they would undertake an immensely complex and expensive operation to do it? B777 engineering designs? After all, all special operations have risks and odds. Did the value of the vanished aircraft outweight the risks and odds?

    And there would have been lots of risks and odds. There are 13 Inmarsat satellites in space. They would have had to figure out that MH370 was going to be pinging to an old and technically out of date satellite. One cannot legitimately plan to spoof data without first knowing what the data will be and how it can be spoofed.

    They would have had to determine that they could fly along borders while having enough fuel to get to Kazakhstan and make it across disputed territory without being detected by any military radar in China or India. Given the trajectory and estimated fuel consumption, I find this problematic in particular. Furthermore, if these hijackers did require an airport such as Yubileniy with space for an inexperienced pilot to autoland a B777, how did the same hijackers have the skill to fly along borders or shadow other planes?

    If you assume that everything was going well when Zaharie said “Good Night…” this operation would have needed to be undertaken quickly, with little margin. The Russian would have needed to walk up, unfurl, and enter the E/E bay without being noticed by any flight attendant or passenger who might ask someone about it, turn, depressurize, climb a loaded aircraft to hypoxic conditions without stalling (a.k.a, slowly), and dispatch the pilots and any flight attendants or passengers in the way. This is possible, but would have required an element of luck to pull off within the margin of time that MH370 left Malaysian airspace and before it could have created alarms on Vietnamese military radar.

    When you add this up, you have a VERY high risk operation for a very low payoff. 2/3 of the passengers are Chinese, so failure would create a tremendous tension in relations at a time when Russia is struggling with Western sanctions. And what exactly is the payoff anyway? Just the knowledge that they could do it? Rogue or otherwise, the Russian leadership is more calculating than stupid and this operation could well have exceeded the level of complexity that has been used to assassinate dissidents in England or hack US elections.

  22. @Shadynuk your number 2. “Someone would have to anticipate that investigators would use this technique to reconstruct the flight path.”

    I dont think this was necessary, when we assume, that someone gave a “hint” to the Inmarsat people after the act. After all the use of satellite data to locate a planeseems to be among the routine tool box of western and eastern military defence people

  23. So much logic, Ben! Kinda ruins the fun, don’t you think? It’s like looking at the hidden side of the “pristine” bullet.

    It is often said that “we should follow the money” when seeking the answer.

    A few people benefited greatly from looking and not finding in the southern ocean…the press, the paid searchers, and their sandwich makers.

    And, of course, Airbus. But what would they know about spoofing aircraft signals?

    Motives are funny things, especially if every theory is on the table!

  24. @Ben S, I won’t offer motives, as they have been discussed here at great length, which you will see as you read back through site posts or through Jeff’s book. But I will say that your statement of terrorist acts nearly always coming with “highly publicized claims” of responsibility is patently inaccurate. In fact, just the opposite is true:—-dont—take-credit-attacks-17984

    And in the MH370 case, many motives discussed would lead to awareness on the part of participating parties, and that definitely does not include the general public.

  25. @Ben S:
    You made a whole range of excellent points, which are all hard to reasonably argue with.

    Ben S: “this operation would have needed to be undertaken quickly, with little margin. The Russian would have needed to walk up, unfurl, and enter the E/E bay without being noticed by any flight attendant or passenger who might ask someone about it, turn, depressurize, climb a loaded aircraft to hypoxic conditions without stalling (a.k.a, slowly), and dispatch the pilots and any flight attendants or passengers in the way.”

    Heck, just try to sneak by everyone in a 5-person-household. Particularly if you don’t control the timing. Virtually impossible. There is always someone in the way …
    Now think of a fully loaded plane with 200+ people in a very tight space.

  26. I believe it IS logical for a heist this complicated, this big to be pulled off, and for the actors still to remain anonymous, and while simultaneously sending a message. That message may not be for the general public, but nonetheless a message.

  27. I also recall great military operations — we know them as having been successful, but not realizing how greatly the odds were stacked against them at the time. Everything would have been planned ahead of time but at the end of the day, they needed the element of luck on their side.

    If not, every well-planned strategy of war, by every single great opposing general would succeed — which of course, we know not to be true.

  28. @Me Ja Yung, Indeed, Operation Mincemeat remained secret for decades.

    @Ben S, You cover a lot of ground, so let me stick with a simple one to start. Which Chinese radar facility do you believe should have detected MH370 if it flew to Kazakhstan?

  29. @Scott

    I did not say ‘terrorist acts’ per se.

    I was pointing out what I think is a flaw in just one of the proposed motives – that Putin’s Russia hijacked MH370 to “show what they could do” which is in Jeff’s book and NYMAG article among others. In my opinion, there are, and have been many better and easier ways for Putin to show us what he can do.

    In regards to your comment about terrorist acts, I think you’re partially right. Certainly not every terrorist attack is claimed, for various reasons that article points out – bad PR – etc.

    But another reason not mentioned at all is that such attacks are simply the product of deranged person(s) with either no affiliation, or only a very tenuous connection to any group. In fact, I’d argue this is a pretty significant proportion of all unclaimed terrorist attacks. There are marginalized people out there with no home, no future, and nothing to lose. It only takes a few of them to go insane.

    Anyway, regarding the northern route, I’d just like to see more beyond mere technical feasibility. After all, even terrorist groups choose missions based on likelihood of success and payout.

    I think if you try to imagine the barriers faced by the operation planners, the complexity, risk, uncertainty in execution, and the payout of it all, you can see that there are significant, unaddressed problems.

  30. @Susie Crowe, I recall that there were quite a few such incidents around that time. It seemed that Russia was aggressively probing Western air defences at the time. They seemed to fall off rapidly soon after and I don’t recall hearing about one in a while.

  31. @Jeff

    I’ve got to say I know next to nothing about Chinese radar installations and don’t really know where to look.

    There are two air bases, Hetian and Kashi, which if they had primary radar, could have been in range. I believe that Hetian has the capability to launch airstrikes into India and is likewise seen as a target for India.

    However, you are the theorist here. Do you know that western China had deficient primary radar coverage in 2014? I listened to your audiobook; if you discussed this I may have missed it.

    I can believe that there is poor radar coverage in Nepal and most or all of the Turkic central Asian countries.

  32. @Jeff Wise, @ Susie Crow, Jeff you took the words out of my mouth. In fact, the Baltic Sea was a particular hot spot for these encounters, and at the time (and perhaps still), with Baltic State sovereignty as questionable as Crimea’s, it was particularly alarming to some.

  33. @Ben S, According to this article, China established an HQ-9 antiaircraft missile detachment at Hetian some time before July 2015:
    Some of the radars that the HQ-9 system works with have up to 300 km range, so would have been able to detect 9M-MRO’s path if it were operational in March of 2014. But the implication is that it wasn’t.

    This article (, dated May 2017, states:

    Two Radar Regiments are deployed by PLAAF for the surveillance of Tibet and South Xinjiang region. Considering the elevated location of the PLAAF radars, the medium and high level surveillance capability of these radars is fairly good and they can reportedly monitor Indian air activities along large stretches of the Line of Actual Control (LAC). Though the specifics of the radars and their exact locations are not known, some details about these PLAAF radars are available from open sources. Shigatse reportedly has a JL-3D-90A long-range airspace surveillance radar with an effective range of 330 Km alongside a SmartHunter low-probability-of-intercept (LPI) capable radar.
    The world’s highest radar station at Ganbala is also in Tibet. Incidentally, the Ganbala radar station was till recently also the highest manned radar station in the world at a height of 5,374 meters above sea level. However, as per recent reports the manpower there was de-inducted in 2015, thereby making it an unmanned radar outpost. China has operationalized five such radars along LAC.
    Nevertheless, even with a couple of Radar Regiments, the low-level surveillance cover within TAR remains poor, primarily due to terrain restrictions, leaving a number of assets denuded of early warning. As per some reports, though radar cover at most of the airports in TAR is poor, Shigatse is reported to have a JY-27 Radar with a range of over 300 Km. While the coverage of JY-27A Acquisition radar from Shigatse looks impressive, it needs to be noted that for most part, the air cover is over TAR and does not extend over Indian air space.”

    Neither of these radar facilities would cover 9M-MRO’s path to Kazakhstan.

    This by no means settles the matter conclusively, but the point I’m trying to make is that the issue is not so clear as many people would assume at first blush. In fact, when the BTO data first became known, but the BFO data was not yet understood, officials already were saying that they believed the plane most likely went south because otherwise it would have been seen on someone’s military radar. It just seems like a reasonable assumption. But in the case of MH370 we see time and time again that reasonable assumptions must be interrogated.

  34. @Ben S., you write “…regarding the northern route, I’d just like to see more beyond mere technical feasibility.”

    At this point, one could say the same of the Southern Route, couldn’t one?

    A couple of additional notes:

    1. I believe thinking on motive, particularly when imagining a Russian sponsored operation, has evolved since those early days to include among other things, a geopolitical leg-breaking on behalf of state level loan sharks. And most of these motives are far stronger than a silent, long-distance suicide in political protest.

    2. Complexity, risk, execution are always an issue in any covert action, whether that action is blowing up apartment buildings and taking theater goers hostage in an effort to boost your political standing to sending in militia to take over part of a sovereign country while claiming the local population is seeing “little green men” to manipulating elections in other countries while fomenting unrest on websites frequented by the disaffected to murdering adversaries and critics at home and abroad. That does not mean one doesn’t do the operation. It means you seek to minimize those factors and/or possibilities in your planning.

    For me, regardless of where MH370 may have met its end, it’s far simpler to believe that it was a chess piece in game that began with it, got more serious with MH17 (which I don’t think coincidently had aboard a relative of the then prime minister) and ultimately resolved itself with the help of some friends and the promise of returning billions of purloined dollars.

  35. @Me Ja Yung:

    “That message may not be for the general public, but nonetheless a message.”

    The same can be said about the emails signed Chinese Martyrs Brigade.

  36. @Ben S et al

    Very good points.

    I want to add the following: By this point I understand the consensus opinion as having moved firmly away from “simple” explanations due mainly to the fact that a very extensive search effort has not found the plane where it should have been had the Inmarsat data been true. I understand the consensus opinion to have moved to at least strongly considering hypotheses based on the sat data to be false. This implies a highly competent state level actor.

    If that is the consensus idea, then why would you assume that only a particular part of the sat data had been falsified which is the idea that the “Northern Route” is based on? If you assume a perp capable of falsifying the Doppler shift, I don’t see why they should specifically not be able to falsify the signal run time. My argument is essentially that once we take the sat data to be false, then there is no particular reason to believe in anything after the point where the plane went dark. All the evidence after that point is effectively to varying degrees unclear and also stacked against the implausibility of a dark plane crossing major countries undetected.

    Regarding the “Russia” hypothesis and Ben S’s exploring potential motives, I find it implausible to assume that the Russians would specifically target a plane full of Chinese people. The “Russia” theories effectively are based on a mix of “Russians are crazy and would have done it for kicks ” and”1MDB loan sharking”. But why not take a plane full of people who are not Russia’s friends? To the extent that Russia has friends (or non-enemies), I Would consider China to be on fairly friendly terms with them.

  37. @Somebody Somewhere, I think this would be a good time to clarify a widespread misapprehension. The reason that I started investigating the possibility of a spoof isn’t that I was attracted to the idea of throwing out an entire class of data. The reason is that after the ATSB identified how the Doppler precompensation worked, and that the SDU had been turned off and turned on again, I realized that there was a specific identifiable method by which the BFO data could be maliciously altered. What’s more, only a tiny handful of commercial flights would exhibit this vulnerability, and MH370 was one of them.

    In this interpretation, the fact that the flight happened to have a majority of Chinese passengers aboard, or that some of them worked for a US software company was irrelevant; MH370 was targeted because it could be disappeared in a way that would become a global obsession.

    Another way of saying this is that I’m not advocating we throw out any data; rather, I’m suggesting we recognize that there is a broader range of possibilities as to how that data could have been generated.

    People who think the plane went to the Maldives or was shot down over the South China Sea just want to throw out the data.

  38. Thank you for your friendly and in depth reply – I realise that I might not deserve it after some of my earlier posts. Sorry for that…

    I want to point out that I in no way want to accuse you or anyone of wanting to “throw out data” for non-objective or irrational reasons. I understand your point and think it’s valid. Effectively you argue that an expert has pointed out an identified, well-explained method by which one part of the data could realistically have been falsified, whilst no such method has been put forward regarding the second relevant half of the data. That makes sense and constitutes good reason to consider what we call “the northern route”.

    However, personally I do not see the fact that a method for falsifying the signal run time has not been spelt out in detail by an expert yet as definite proof that such a manipulation should not be possible. To the contrary, as I stated in my last post, under the assumption that the perp was a state level actor with corresponding resources, I see no reason to assume that they would be able to manipulate only one part of the data, but not the other. On the level of physics, I see no reason why it should not be possible given adequate ressources.

    With due respect (for a change), I would not say that the fact that the flight happened to have a majority of Chinese passengers aboard would have been irrelevant. If the Russia theory was true, I would consider it somewhat likely that the Chinese (government) would know what happened. If so, they would conceivably be pretty pi**ed at this random, unwarranted, mass murder for no reason whatsoever of their citizens and the awkward political situation the disappearance put them in. You argue that if the plane was “disappeared” using the specific method that you put forward, only a few planes were vulnerable to that specific method. And yet, presumably there was not just one? And would there have been a need to “disappear” this particular plane on this particular flight, if all you want to do is some loan sharking?

  39. @Somebody Somewhere
    Humble response, niiice.

    The vanishing of flight MH370 was not a precipitous undertaking.

    It was an action that guaranteed worldwide exposure.

    Those two elements seem hugely important in identifying cause.

    Why would motive of murder or suicide be contigent on worldwide attention and why would a motive of worldwide attention be contingent on murder or suicide?

    If opinion of Captain Zaharie’s guilt includes the simulator data from the February 3, 2014 file, his plan was at least a month in the making.

    If he was suicidal or maniacal about commiting mass murder, was downing an aircraft the only option he considered to kill himself or murder hundreds, why would it be?

    If he was intent on exposing Malaysian corruption by Najib, what made him think that could only be accomplished if he killed himself and murdered hundreds of innocent people?

    Regardless of intent, no plan can be guaranteed a flawless outcome, he would have had to consider how his ghastly act would only expose him as a lunatic while
    providing nothing to incriminate Najib.

    He was known as a do it yourself type of guy who enjoyed making and watching youtube videos. It makes sense to assume he did substantially more computer research on other options and information of those topics.

  40. @Somebody Somewhere,

    My use of the phrase loan sharks is regrettable, as it’s clearly something too easy to poke fun at while avoiding the truths that inspired it.

    In the last years we’ve come to understand the extent to which Russian oligarchs engage in criminal behavior with money laundering being the least of their criminality. We now understand, too, many of the connections these people have to various governments–and not just their own, though some experts believe that Vladimir Putin only serves as president because of a symbiotic relationship with the oligarchs if not purely at their pleasure.

    From the Panama Papers to the Bellingcat to the Mueller investigation and citizen journalists on Twitter and Medium, these connections are made clearer every day.

    Likewise, made clearer each day is the extent to which the Kremlin gang will go to enrich themselves. That does not mean they are reckless. Everything is a calculation, but we have seen them assassinate opponents and defectors. We have seen them try to hack into the election systems of sovereign states. We have seen them invade—and deny invading—sovereign states. It’s quite possible we’ve stood by while they’ve killed hundreds of their own people, as in the Dubovka Theater raid, which was, it’s been reported, a false-flag operation.

    So as for Chinese fatalities in MH370, I’d go one step further than Jeff’s “they were irrelevant” to say they were just one more input in the calculation. I can even imagine the math going like this: which nation capable of retaliation for such an event is the most pragmatic and least likely to retaliate? Which nation believe the long game and the importance of strong commerce as much as a strong military is the way to win the future? And finally, which nation, has least to fear from its population’s opinion and otherwise sees the deaths of its people as a byproduct of its ascent on the world stage? There are many reasons China may be, to quote you, pi**ssed, but that doesn’t mean it would result in retaliation or that some other deal or agreement we aren’t privy to would make that anger go away.

    And, finally, I’d offer one reason why the Chinese may know more than we do about MH370’s fate. They certainly have the resources to support a continued search of the seabed for MH370 and its people. They have they not done that, ignoring the request of Chinese family members of the victims.

  41. If MH370 was a reaction or retaliation to action(s) already incurred, the logistics of flight would seem to trump any consideration of the passengers or nationalities.

    Possibly a message had been delivered on a much smaller scale with no result, perhaps involving the return of a massive amount of money from a very unscrupulous leader.

    The purpose would be in the delivery of fear, the ability would be in the execution and commitment to remain anonymous.

    Or perhaps it was as Jeff suggests, designed as a distraction to focus world attention elsewhere.

    To enable anonymity, it would be critically important all traces of passengers and plane were eliminated, perhaps best accomplished by seizing control of the plane and flying to a highly remote area before crashing it into the sea.

  42. Do those who believe the BFO data was spoofed take the BTO data (and thus, the arcs) to be legitimate?

    If you assume that the arcs are indeed legitimate, and work backward from the 7th arc, one reasonable conclusion is that at the 6th arc, the aircraft was in China, and at the 5th arc it was straddling the Nepal-China border.

    However, the 4th arc, at 4:41 is smack-dab over the middle of India. Even if you assume the aircraft was over water at this point, in order to get to the 5th arc, it would have had to go north between the Bangladesh-India border, and finally, it would have HAD to cross Indian territory to get to Nepal.

    East India extends above and around Bangladesh and West Bengal has several air bases and coastal defense systems along the Bay of Bengal.

    (In the following I used to calculate the distance between my coordinates)

    For the sake of interest, let’s assume that MH370’s coordinates were roughly 20.7577° N, 89.0837° E as it approached the India-Bangladesh border. (2 degrees direct to the east of Abdul Kalam island) This is 975 nm or 1122 miles from its last known position in the Malacca Strait. The time difference is 2:28 to 4:41, or 133 minutes. This works out to 506 mph – which is reasonable. This is a poor match for the 4th arc – it should be closer to continental India – but within some margin of error.

    Mind you, we have only an hour to get to the 5th arc in a border; we also have to intersect arc points.

    Let’s now move the plane to the top of the India-Bangladesh border at 25.7577° N, 88.0837° E. That’s 305 nautical miles, passing within 60 miles of the busy international airport in Kolkata.

    Crossing India briefly, the plane makes direct over Nepal, which we’ll assume is dark. To get close enough to the 5th arc, we’ll say a further 161 nm to 27.7577° N, 86.0837° E. That’s 535 mph – again good.

    At 5:41, there are now 158 minutes to its (more or less) final destination.

    To get to Yubileyniy at about 8:19, (46.0535° N, 63.2452° E) the plane would have had to go in a straight line over Jammu and Kashmir at an average speed of 672 mph. Not feasible, IMO.

    In short, what I want to say is that almost all northern routes that match the BTO arc data had to traverse (in addition to China) a significant proportion of India, and importantly, a part of India which is significantly populated and maintains air defense systems near the Bay of Bengal.

    Kolkata had its radars updated in 2012-2013:

    I also think it can be reasonably assumed that Jammu and Kashmir are being watched.

    Without evidence that India and China don’t have primary radar for critical parts (India) or vast swaths (Western China) of their countries I continue to be skeptical. Remember the US helicopters that got to bin Laden? They only “beat” Pakistani radar because American intelligence convinced a friend in high places to make it so.

    We’re just civilians, so it’s hard to come by military radar information of other countries. So I can at least admit that if MH370 was able to get all the way through, I’m sure that China and India would claim it was impossible to save face. It also goes that the Bangladesh borders are not a priority for Indian air defence. But no coverage through the entire northern corridor?

    At the very least, it seems like someone ought to try turning off the electronics and trying to fly this or a similar route in the early morning hours to see if they are detected.

  43. @Ben S
    “Anyway, regarding the northern route, I’d just like to see more beyond mere technical feasibility.”

    Is this your version of “like to see more beyond mere technical feasibility.”?

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