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#MH370: Are impenetrable radar defenses in SE and Central Asia vulnerable?

Cross posted from Frederick Leatherman Law Blog

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.[/caption]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.

Photo by L. Chang, used under Creative Commons license

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Frederick Leatherman

Frederick Leatherman

I am a former law professor and felony criminal defense lawyer who practiced in state and federal courts for 30 years specializing in death penalty cases, forensics, and drug cases.

I taught criminal law, criminal procedure, law and forensics, and trial advocacy for three years after retiring from my law practice.

I also co-founded Innocence Project Northwest (IPNW) at the University of Washington School of Law in Seattle and recruited 40 lawyers who agreed to work pro bono, assisted by law students, representing 17 innocent men and women wrongfully convicted of sexually abusing their children in the notorious Wenatchee Sex Ring witch-hunt prosecutions during the mid 90s. All 17 were freed from imprisonment.

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