Why didn’t Malaysian military react to MH370 blip on radar screens, ask investigators

The Malaysian Insider
March 16, 2014

Investigators are puzzled over Malaysian military’s inaction in responding to an unidentified blip on their radar screens that was later said to be the missing flight MH370, the New York Times reported today.

It reported that the plane flew past three military radars and over Penang but nothing was done to identify it, which would have helped prevent its disappearance.

“The watch team never noticed the blip, it was as though the airspace was his,” a person with detailed knowledge of the investigation reportedly told the NYT.

Still, the report said that this was not the first, nor would it be the last of the long series of errors the Malaysian government has made, which complicated the task of finding the missing Boeing 777-200ER (9M-MRO) with239 onboard.

Today is the eight day since the plane disappeared from radar and the trail had gotten weaker as the search expands to Kazakhstan to the vast Indian Ocean.

While no one can say with certainty whether the delays had doomed those onboard the jet, mistakes have accumulated at a remarkable pace, NYT said.

The paper highlighted that MH370 flew over the peninsula without the military realising or identifying it – a damning fact, quoting David Learmount, operations and safety editor of Flightglobal, a news and data service for the aviation sector.

It was also reported that senior Malaysian military officers only became aware of the radar data soon after news spread that MH370 had disappeared.

Yet, the government organised and oversaw an expensive and complex international search and rescue effort in the Gulf of Thailand for a full week.

Only yesterday did Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak admit that satellite data had shown the plane continued to fly for six more hours after leaving Malaysian airspace.

According to the NYT report, a four-person air force crew based in Butterworth watching for intrusions into the country’s airspace either did not notice or failed to report a blip on their defensive radar and air traffic radar that was moving steadily across the country from east to west, heading right towards them.

Even the crews at two other radar installations at Kota Baru did not designate the blip as an unknown intruder, while the jetliner continued to fly across the country without anyone watching or alerting a superior or the national defence command, despite the fact that the radar contact’s flight path did not correspond to any filed flight plan.

And as a result, combat aircraft never scrambled to investigate.

Instead the radar contact was only discovered when military officials began going through tapes later on March 8, after the plane failed to land in Beijing.

And as the morning unravelled, it became clear that something had gone wrong.

Malaysian air force chief Gen Tan Sri Rodzali Daud (pic) on Wednesday, openly acknowledged the existence of the radar signals for the first time, five days after the plane went missing.

Still, he had said that further analysis was necessary because the radar plots of the aircraft’s location were stripped of the identifying information given by the plane’s onboard transponders, which someone aboard the aircraft appeared to have switched off.

Given the uncertainty, it is not possible to know yet whether action by the Malaysian government or military could have altered its fate.

The report noted that Najib took pains when he addressed the media yesterday to say that Malaysia had not concealed any information, including military data. – March 16, 2014.

  1. #1 by yhsiew on Sunday, 16 March 2014 - 7:52 pm

    In time of war, Malaysia will be a big loser as enemy planes can fly into our airspace with nobody bothers to investigate.

  2. #2 by cemerlang on Sunday, 16 March 2014 - 8:15 pm

    Malaysia never had 911. Never need to fight. Always is a peacemaker. Always show people that we are so good. We go away with the idea that everything is alright.

  3. #3 by tak tahan on Sunday, 16 March 2014 - 9:00 pm

    When we have Perkasa,Perkida,Isma,Rosmah and now millionhair Raja Bomoh Sedunia Nujum VIP with his millionhair silat fighters,which country fighter plane dares to fly near Malusia ?

    From now on no need to depend on defensive radar or air traffic radar.Raja Bomoh’s bamboo binocular will do just fine.If enemy planes fly into our airspace sure kena crocodile slap.

    • #4 by cemerlang on Sunday, 16 March 2014 - 10:03 pm

      Then quickly tell what they can see; whether the plane has landed on some desert, some unknown island, somewhere out there. Whatever fuel that is available. And radar or whatever peralatan can be lupuskan sahaja.

  4. #5 by undertaker888 on Sunday, 16 March 2014 - 10:04 pm

    they were busy watching porno or fast asleep.

    • #6 by cemerlang on Sunday, 16 March 2014 - 10:32 pm

      spent so much only for strategic people, people who can manipulate and be manipulated in return but for others not allowed to spend. what’s the point if you buy and buy and buy to achieve your purpose yet at the end of the day, all that you bought are just nothing. Laptop for porno instead of work. Laptop for facebook instead of work. not enough equipments. not enough staff. what’s that ?

  5. #7 by WTFak on Sunday, 16 March 2014 - 10:07 pm

    It’s not that our military do not want to send in the fighter jets, but the jets do not have engines, how to fly?

  6. #8 by boh-liao on Sunday, 16 March 2014 - 10:17 pm

    Priority #1, SEARCH n LOCATE RM1.00 chickens through d bamboo binoculars n led by d peeM, then SnL MH370

  7. #9 by bumiborn on Sunday, 16 March 2014 - 10:55 pm

    Wish the unidentified object was intercepted and saved all these troubles. Gross negligence!!!

  8. #10 by Justice Ipsofacto on Sunday, 16 March 2014 - 10:56 pm

    Indian government said that it was not possible for the plane to fly into indian airspace because its air force would hv sent out jets to detect, identify and destroy the plane.

    But here the guy manning the radar at the time of the blip on the screen was wot having nasi lemak and teh tarik??

  9. #11 by tak tahan on Sunday, 16 March 2014 - 10:57 pm

    No need to search n locate RM1.00 whole chicken.Just go to Kajang hot town now n then chicken-by-erection festival,lots of part of whole chickens will be served ie chicken wings,legs,ribs,heads,buttocks n all your per se special request.Remember to finger licking your fingers thoroughly as water rationing might be your utmost concerned issue right now.

  10. #12 by Justice Ipsofacto on Sunday, 16 March 2014 - 11:06 pm

    Awwww come on. A couple of thieves could leave our airforce warehouse with one whole jet engine on their shoulders and you guys expect them to notice a blip on the radar screen?

  11. #13 by boh-liao on Monday, 17 March 2014 - 2:51 am

    On d Internet there was dis thinking: Contrary 2 d MI’s article, what IF our air force actually very efektif?

  12. #14 by Noble House on Monday, 17 March 2014 - 3:31 am

    On Friday, the United States sent the destroyer USS Kidd to scout the Indian Ocean as the search expands into that body of water.

    Cmdr. William Marks of the U.S. 7th Fleet said of the scale of the search: “I, like most of the world, really have never seen anything like this. It’s pretty incredible.” “It’s a completely new game now,” he said. “We went from a chess board to a football field.”

    And this just about sums it up by Bob Francis, a former National Transportation Safety Board official, one of several experts who have questioned how Malaysian authorities have handled the situation:-

    “The Malaysians are not doing a superb job of running this investigation,” he said. “And they apparently give you some information, and then they withhold information. How much are they relying on and listening to the Europeans and the NTSB who are there with more expertise? I don’t know, but I think you know we’ve got a mixture of a very strange situation that happens to be in an environment, a regulatory environment, that really isn’t capable or isn’t running an investigation the way it should be run.”

    • #15 by Justice Ipsofacto on Monday, 17 March 2014 - 8:56 am

      How dare Bob Francis condemn umno. That is clearly an act of anti-unmo, anti-agung, anti-sultan, anti-melayu (ie umnoputra), anti-islam jenis umno etc etc etc.

      And anyway, doesnt he realise that umno is his supreme grand master and the GOD of all gods?

      I wish him good luck for umno may unleash the wrath of perkasa upon him.

      If i were bob francis, i would go into hiding straight away.

  13. #16 by boh-liao on Monday, 17 March 2014 - 8:30 am

    How DARE B Francis QUESTIONED how Malaysian authorities hv handled d situation
    D crème de la crème of Perkosa-UmnoB kaki n their appointed kaki hv been on DISPLAY 2 d world since 8.3.14
    If Francis does not like it, he better b careful
    He may b shown d BUTT dance or slapped n asked 2 go back 2 where he came fr

  14. #17 by pulau_sibu on Monday, 17 March 2014 - 2:45 pm

    since the terrorists from philippines came to attack sabah, we now focus only the enemies from water and not on air any more?

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