This site is typically about military games, our military/tactical audience and what interest/impacts them but sometimes with all the work that the group here does and how military members tend to think (tactically) I have been bothered by the recent events of the missing Malaysian Airlines (MH370) flight and what it might mean that doesn’t seem to have be mentioned or pondered very much or at all in the media. Sometimes it just has to be put down on paper, discussed and talked out so I present to you something that has concerned me over the past few days.
Consider what a missing 777 could mean when you stop thinking about finding the plane/passengers/crash site and start thinking about why someone would want to take it.
What if the intention is the plane itself and the people make no difference? If a terrorist organization have access to a strip that can handle that size aircraft and they hide it then maybe the situation is less likely the event of this flight and its passengers and more about what having that aircraft could mean.
Lets REALLY look at range for a moment, here’s what that flight was going to do the day it went missing.
The middle east is easily within that range for locations and if you’ve been watching the news they have been focusing on a 2,500 mile radius of possible places for this plane to have gotten to so lets walk down a possible path for a moment and say that a terrorist group seized, stole, landed and have hidden this aircraft. The reason my focus is there is that if you’re going to steal it, you’ve got to put it down someplace you can control, the worlds top terrorists don’t travel due to all the security so you need a place near your base of operations if you’re going to get things done.
If you believe that someone has the facilities to land an aircraft that large and a hanger or other way to hide it from detection then you have to be able to believe that they could also get hands on the 45,000lbs of aviation fuel needed to fully load it which means it could be theoretically flown it’s full range.
Based on the Boeing website the 777-200ER is capable of a maximum range of nearly 9000 miles.
Europe is well within range and so is the whole of the United States. Of course the continental US isn’t the only available target since the US has plenty of places in the world away from our borders. Bottom line here folks, this plane could reach essentially anyplace on the globe once it’s fully loaded and back in the air.
I believe that with the evidence mounting that this flight was ‘taken’ and no contact by anyone with demands or claiming responsibility. It is fair to believe that this may be an attempt at another 9/11 style attack. Rather than risk personnel travel, detection at airports, weapons/explosives etc, they turn an individual or an entire flight crew. Take the plane, hide it, refuel it then take as long as they wish with whatever personnel that they wish to load it full of whatever or whoever they want.
There’s little chance this this aircraft, if it is intact and capable of taking off again isn’t going to avoid detection long enough to make multiple trips anywhere, limited runways, money to maintain, refuel and keep it off the books would seem to be impossible so if a terrorist organization was going to use it, it would be a one way trip.
The worlds counter-terrorism groups have been anxiously watching the explosive PETN. Its been used in the past and it is one of the most powerful explosives known and even a small amount of this material presents a major problem. We screen the hell out of people for explosive residue to stop it from getting around but what if they steal the aircraft and then don’t have to worry about security getting onto an aircraft at all?
We’ve been trying to screen for people and materials to keep bad people off an aircraft. We’ve worked to harden the aircraft against a hostile takeover mid flight but maybe the bad guys just got on with nothing to trip the security, chose an airport in a well traveled Muslim area on an airline that isn’t US operated.
What if everything we’ve been doing since September 11, 2001 assumed that terrorist would never have an aircraft of their own.
So what if they do now? Is it just my brain chewing at this thing a little too hard or do any of you think that this situation is possible? Got your own theory?