Are impenetrable radar defenses in SE and Central Asia vulnerable?

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Good afternoon:

Many people are wondering today why the Malaysia Air Force did not notice Flight MH 370 flying W/B across the Malaysia Peninsula heading toward the Straits of Malacca early Saturday morning.

The answer is that the supposedly impenetrable air defense system in southeast Asia could more accurately be described as a sieve without anyone paying attention and that’s during the day. At night it isn’t even turned on.

As the Crane-Station just said,

Imagine a scene opening on a bunch of guys sitting around a table playing poker, tossing down shots and smoking cigars. You can hear bed springs complaining as two people are screwing in a back room. No one is showing any interest in a radar screen with an unidentified blip slowly crawling across it

Oh, hell no!

Walmart has better security.

Peter Apps and Frank Jack Daniel of Reuters are reporting today,

Air traffic systems rely almost entirely on on-board transponders to detect and monitor aircraft. In this case, those systems appear to have been deactivated around the time the aircraft crossed from Malaysian to Vietnamese responsibility.

At the very least, the incident looks set to spark calls to make it impossible for those on board an aircraft to turn off its transponders and disappear.

Military systems, meanwhile, are often limited in their own coverage or just ignore aircraft they believe are on regular commercial flights. In some cases, they are simply switched off except during training and when a threat is expected.

That, one senior Indian official said, might explain why the Boeing 777 was not detected by installations on India’s Andaman and Nicobar Islands, an archipelago which its planes were searching on Friday and Saturday, or elsewhere.

“We have many radar systems operating in this area, but nothing was picked up,” Rear Admiral Sudhir Pillai, chief of staff of India’s Andamans and Nicobar Command, told Reuters. “It’s possible that the military radars were switched off as we operate on an ‘as required’ basis.”

Separately, a defence source said that India did not keep its radar facilities operational at all times because of cost. Asked what the reason was, the source said: “Too expensive.”

The person who hijacked MH 370 had figured out how to exploit radar vulnerabilities. We do not know why, but there is no question that whomever pulled off this sky jacking is a brilliant, fearless and ruthless person who knew how to fly a 777-200 ER, disable communication equipment and weave his way through radar defenses.

I do not believe that person went to all of this trouble just to commit suicide in the Indian Ocean.

I believe the only reason that the southern route to extinction is being pushed as the most likely scenario by the so-called experts is that a bunch of countries with egg on their faces do not want to admit that they were asleep at the wheel.

I fear this is not going to end well.


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37 Responses to Are impenetrable radar defenses in SE and Central Asia vulnerable?

  1. Malisha says:

    Another thought. It could be “somebody doesn’t want to admit how little they know about this and why their systems are so poor that they know so little,” or it could be, “somebody doesn’t want to reveal what they DO KNOW because their capacity to find it out means that they are doing something secret that gives them more information than they would otherwise have.”

    So are they hiding their power or their weakness?

  2. The Raven says:

    It’s hard to believe the plane could have crossed into Kazakhstan without notice from US bases in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    Maybe it did end up in the Indian Ocean after all.

  3. The Times of India is reporting today,

    (1) Regarding the report that the ACARS System was shut down at 1:07 am:

    The last transmission from the ACARS system – a maintenance computer that relays data on the plane’s status — had been received at 1.07am, as the plane crossed Malaysia’s northeast coast and headed out over the Gulf of Thailand.
    “We don’t know when the ACARS was switched off after that,” Ahmad Jauhari said [the CEO for Malaysia Airlines]. “It was supposed to transmit 30 minutes from there, but that transmission did not come through.”

    (2) Regarding the identity of the person who signed off at 1:19 am,
    saying, “All right, Good night.”

    Ahmad Jauhari Yahyah said,

    “Initial investigations indicate it was the co-pilot who basically spoke the last time it was recorded on tape,” Ahmad Jauhari said on Monday, when asked who it was believed had spoken those words.

    Instead of contacting Ho Chi Minh City Tower, as he was directed to do, the transponder was turned off at 1:21 am and the flight changed course to W/B over the Malay Peninsula.

    (3) RE: Kazakhstan

    Kazakhstan, at the end of the northern arc, said it had not detected any “unsanctioned use” of its air space on March 8.

    “Even if all on-board equipment is switched off, it is impossible to fly through in a silent mode,” the Kazakh civil aviation committee said in a statement sent to Reuters. “There are also military bodies monitoring the country’s air space.

    (4) Regarding the possibility that the pilot may have been involved:

    Police special branch officers searched the homes of the captain, 53-year-old Zaharie Ahmad Shah, and first officer, 27-year-old Fariq Abdul Hamid, in middle-class suburbs of Kuala Lumpur close to the international airport on Saturday.

    Among the items taken for examination was a flight simulator Zaharie had built in his home.

    A senior police official familiar with the investigation said the flight simulator programs were closely examined, adding they appeared to be normal ones that allow users to practice flying and landing in different conditions.

    A second senior police official with knowledge of the investigation said they had found no evidence of a link between the pilot and any militant group.

    “Based on what we have so far, we cannot see the terrorism link here,” he said. “We looked at known terror or extremist groups in Southeast Asia. The links are not there.”

  4. New reports this morning:

    (1) NBC News reports that India, Pakistan and Kazakhstan have reported that MH370 was not detected on their radar. Presumably, the same can be said about China since 153 passengers were Chinese citizens and the government has criticized Malaysia for the way it has handled the case.

    (2) Reuters is reporting that one of the passengers is Mohd Khairul Amri Selamat, 29, a Malaysian flight engineer who had worked for a Swiss-based jet charter firm called Execujet Aviation Group.

    A flight engineer is responsible for overseeing systems on a plane during flights to confirm they are working correctly and to make repairs if necessary. As an engineer specializing in executive jets, Khairul would not necessarily have all the knowledge needed to divert and fly a large jetliner.

    He had recently purchased a new house in Kuala Lumpur and told his father he was flying to Beijing for his job.

    (3)NBC News is reporting that Ahmad Jauhari Yahya told a news conference that First Officer Fariq Abdul Hamid and not his superior Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah, said “All right. Good night.”

    (4) NBC News is also reporting that a source with Malaysia’s Civil Aviation disputed the report that MH370 was terrain masking by flying below 5,000 feet, telling NBC News on Monday that the story was “unverified and not true.”

    (5) Australia has accepted an invitation to join the search effort and will be leading the search in the south part of the Indian Ocean.

    • Boyd says:

      So Khairul Selamat seemed to have plans to live. Does anyone recall the shoe bomber? If he had been successful that would have been a mystery.

  5. Boyd says:

    I was not in the country last week weekend so I don’t know how the news of the plane was first reported. Where I was that Saturday morning when the Plane’s disappearance was first announced, CNN Europe ran in the rolling bottom textbar the names of the pilots over and over.
    I thought that was unusual, the Muslim names caused me to suspect foul play or terrorism instantly. I was surprised how quick CNN Europe got that information and posted.. For instance when that Plane from Korea crashed in San Francisco last year they never said the Pilots names until that FAA intern kid called them ding bang ow.

  6. Boyd says:

    I think someone wanted to die and take everyone on board with them to show the world they can beat security and you will never be safe. So look at the map and look for the most remote part of the Indian Ocean, that’s where the plane is.

    Now if they landed it, then what do they plan to do with an airplane? Is it possible they plan to hit New York City again.

    I recently came back from a trip and Useless air lost my bags, No they let someone steal my bags. The one ill-fated leg LaGuardia to Reagan did it to me of a 3 legged return flight. And that got me thinking. As it’s very easy to park outside the Arrival area, walk in , pick up a bag and walk out. Think how easy it is to walk into Arrivals or Departures with a bag full of explosives and walk out.
    And I only thought of that after USAIR let someone steal my bag, there’s no security or personnel, cameras, or barricades between the Carousel and the exit door.

    • Trained Observer says:

      I wouldn’t be so sure about “no cameras” anywhere in many, if not most airports, except possibly restrooms.

      • Boyd says:

        Then they saw the guy who stole my bag. Bags just don’t disappear. I went back to the airport 2 days later and NO bag.
        They know the arrival time, carousel chute and description of the bag. I had all my gifts in that bag. I’ll never go to that part of Europe ever again.

  7. bettykath says:

    Raven, there is another state actor to consider, the US. The 777 can also be taken over and flown by remote control. It’s my understanding that the AWACs has the capability to do the remote control thing as well as deal with various signals, e.g. radar.

  8. Judy A Vallejos says:

    My daughter will be going to China on Tuesday. She will be over there for a week.

  9. Vicky says:

    Completely off topic, but I am happy to report the Fred Phelps, leader of the Westboro cult is in extremely poor health and expected to die soon.

  10. colin black says:

    Fred…I fear this is not going to end well.


    Japan Fuckashma .

    Biggest dirty bomb on planet primed an ready by Mother Nature ready for a trigger by human intervention..

    I hope the air radar around those crippled nuclear plants is working?…

  11. The Raven says:

    Yes, and you said it better than I did, which is what lawyers are for.

    I don’t think it was one person, though: this looks more like a state actor, or someone aided by a state actor. But who? The big actors in the region are China, Russia, India, and the loose and shifting alliance of Islamic states in the Middle East and Central Asia. Looking at the map, the likely flight path of the stolen plane takes it right across the eastern side of the board of the Great Game. I could easily believe Afghanistan or Pakistan. Kashmiri rebels seem not impossible, or Turkmen. It is just possible this has something to do with the Russian actions in Crimea; there is a Tatar minority in Turkmenistan, and they are ethnically related to Turkmen.

  12. What about the Flight Simulator?

    The Hindustan Times reported today:

    Police chief Khalid said investigators had taken the flight simulator for examination by experts.
    Earlier, a senior police official said the flight simulator programmes were looked at closely, adding they appeared to be normal ones that allowed players to practice flying and landing in different conditions.
    Police sources said they were looking at the personal, political and religious backgrounds of both pilots and the other crew members. Khalid said ground support staff who might have worked on the plane were also being investigated.

  13. The BBC reminds us:

    Famously, in 1987, the amateur German pilot Mathias Rust embarrassed the Soviet military by flying his light plane unchallenged through supposedly the most complex air defence system in the world to land in Red Square in Moscow.

  14. Regarding minimal requirements to land the plane.

    Time reports:

    Captain Ross Aimer, an aviation consultant who was formerly an instructor for the 777, told TIME that a pilot with “considerable skill and experience” could land the aircraft in as little as 3,000 ft (900 m) of space. “It’s conceivable that if this was a calculated set-up they may have an old military field somewhere in the middle of some jungle,” he said. “You could even land it on a beach or small strip of land.”

  15. I figured something was amiss this morning about the southern route when I read that an Australian official said the Malaysian government had not yet contacted them to ask for assistance.

    The west coast of Australia is a lot closer to the southern route than any of the other countries.

    Ergo, it’s the northern route.

    Sorry, don’t have the link.

  16. Bob Scheiffer reported today that the plane had enough fuel to remain in the air for 8 to 8.5 hours, at 35,000 feet.

  17. Regarding why the ACARS satellite pinging system wasn’t turned off:

    Answer: It couldn’t be turned off without powering down the plane.

    The Telegraph reported today:

    The ACARS system is supplied to Malaysia Airlines by a Geneva-based air transport communications firm SITA, using a satellite system operated by British firm Inmarsat (see 12.04). SITA issued the following statement:

    SITA can confirm that it supplies its Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) to Malaysia Airlines. We are fully supporting the airline and all of the relevant authorities in their on-going investigation of flight MH370.

    While ACARS can be manually switched off, it contains a failsafe function which, in the absence of any communications activity for more than an hour, sends a simple “ping” signal.
    This function cannot be switched off without depowering the plane itself.

  18. Two sides to a story says:

    Hopefully the plane will be found before any more crimes are committed, but the hours are ticking away.

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