The exhaustive multinational search for the vanished Malaysia Airlines jetliner has entered its 12th day, yet nothing concrete has turned up.
The hunt for the Boeing 777-200 plane operating as flight MH-370 has been expanded to 7.68 million square kilometres — that’s an area slightly larger than Australia, or roughly two-thirds the size of the United States
That’s exacerbated by concerns whether Asian nations would be willing to share military radar data that could show which sky corridor the aircraft took.
The Beijing-bound flight had vanished from civilian air traffic control screens at 1.21 am on March 8, less than an hour after taking off from Kuala Lumpur.
But it wasn’t until four days later that the Royal Malaysian Air Force revealed they had detected a ‘blip’ believed to be the plane at 2:15am, 200 miles northwest of Penang in the Strait of Malacca.
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It took Thailand’s military another week to announce that they had picked up an ‘unknown aircraft’ at 1.28am. Thailand said it took so long to share the information because Malaysia didn’t specifically asked for it.
That’s led expert observers to raise the possibility of a mass cover-up by Asian military officials for their embarrassing failure to spot a plane 74 metres long with a 61-metre wing span as it veered well off-course.
Aviation expert David Learmount is of the opinion that Asian countries could be afraid of exposing holes in their air defences.
“Depending on the actual track the aircraft followed, if it had headed approximately north-west this could include some — if not all — of the following countries: Thailand, Myanmar/Burma, China, Bangladesh, Bhutan, India, Nepal, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Turkmenistan.
“If the aircraft had gone that way, surely military primary radar in one of those countries — or several — would have picked up the signal from this unidentified aircraft, and the vigilant radar operator would have scrambled a fighter to intercept the intruder?
“Maybe these states’ air defences, like Malaysia’s, are not what they are cracked up to be,” he said. “And maybe they wouldn’t want the rest of the world to know that.”