…the fact that Malaysian Flight 370’s disappearance doesn’t appear to conform to any previous fact pattern of plane crashes, and that nothing about it makes sense, makes for all kinds of theories as to what happened to that plane.
And I have one.
I don’t hold to this, mind you. I’m not saying this is what happened or that it’s even plausible. If anything, I’m throwing this out there for the purposes of discussion – maybe our readers can shed some light on it in the comments.
But the theory goes like this: somebody, and based on the information we have it’s quite possible the Iranians, stole that plane. And that it could be used for some devastatingly nefarious purposes.
Why does it make sense to think the plane was stolen?
Well, we know that somehow the plane’s transponders were turned off at almost the precise time it made a sharp turn to the west, completely off-course for its flight plan from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, and Malaysian military radar tracked it as it crossed the Malay Peninsula into the Malacca Strait before losing it.
There were no distress calls issued. That’s an entirely unusual thing to have happened, even in the case of electronic failure. Not only didn’t the pilots use the cockpit radio to send out a distress call, none of the passengers apparently used their cell phones to inform family of something unusual going on with that plane.
And the military radar tracking that plane’s westerly course over the course of an entire hour wipes out any idea that the plane blew up on the spot. It didn’t blow up where it was originally being searched for – which we already know because there was no sign of it there.
Let’s say it was stolen. How far could you go on a 777 over the Indian Ocean?
The Boeing 777 has a range of 5,235 to 9,380 nautical miles. Flight 370, from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, would have been set for a 2,700-mile journey.
It’s about 3,900 miles from Kuala Lumpur to Tehran, which of course wouldn’t be a likely destination for that plane; someplace a lot more remote in Iran would be more likely. Konarak Airport, which is in the far southeastern part of Iran along the coast in a town called Chabahar, is 3,163 miles away.
There is no question but that the plane would have had enough fuel to make that flight, even if it swung wide of the Indian sub-continent so as to avoid contact with Indian military radar.
The takeoff distance requirement of a 777 is somewhere between 8,000 and 10,000 feet. Konarak Airport has one runway that is 12,500 feet. It can definitely handle that plane.
And it’s a decent bet that if somebody wanted to take that plane to Iran and had the assistance of the Iranian government they could keep it quiet.
Why would the Iranians want that plane? Who knows? For use as a delivery vehicle for a brand-new nuke is the really scary idea.
It’s 8,123 miles from Tehran to Caracas, and it’s 7,370 miles from Tehran to Havana. Again, setting that plane up as a cargo flight and having compliant governments give it cover as such would get it fairly close to the United States.
And here’s an animation of U.S. air traffic…
You’ll notice that air lane running due north from Miami up through Washington, DC. It’s extremely busy; enough that a plane flying as, say, a Venezuela Air flight to Canada, could sneak into that corridor?
Once you’ve got that plane flying on that corridor you could fly it into almost anything you want; by the time it departed from its flight plan there would be very little opportunity to shoot it down.
But there are other scenarios. What if it had a brand-new Iranian nuke on it?
If it did, you wouldn’t even need to drop the thing out of the plane. You could take the plane to its maximum service altitude of 43,000 feet over the eastern seaboard and detonate the nuke to release an electromagnetic pulse. Depending on where it was detonated, it’s entirely possible it would take out the electrical grid of several major cities.
Most of the writing on EMP attacks contemplates a detonation 200 miles above the earth’s surface, rather than the eight miles you’d have if you blew up a nuke on a 777. Of course, at only eight miles up you’d get the added benefit of killing lots and lots of people either on the spot or by distributing radioactive fallout over an entire metropolitan area, to go with the disruption of the electrical grid, telecommunications and electronics over a larger (statewide? tri-state?) area.
Sure, you don’t need a 777 for that. But one hallmark of Iranian terror attacks is that unlike Al Qaeda, Iranian proxies don’t take credit for their evil deeds. They like deniability. And if in the aftermath of an attack the Iranians can point to an inventory of their aircraft and say they don’t have any 777’s, they might have that deniability.
I’m not saying this is what happened or will happen. I’m saying it’s a theory which hasn’t been disproven by information yet. And it comports with a threat that has already been given voice by the national security community.
Better find that plane.
ALSO: There’s a report this morning by an oilfield worker who was on a rig off Vietnam who says he saw the plane on fire…
The problem with this is that the Vietnamese say they’ve searched the area and didn’t find anything.