A year and five days ago Walt reported that the search for the Malaysian Airlines B777 operating as flight MH370 was being quietly scaled down. Now comes news that the search in the southeast quadrant of the Indian Ocean will come to an end in July, according to Martin Dolan, the chief commissioner of the Australian Transport Safety Bureau. (Christine Negroni, who writes about aviation and travel for Forbes, points out that Mr Dolan will retire on the very same day. What a coincidence.
In "Search Ending For MH370 But Mysteries Grow", Ms Negroni expresses consternation at the selection of the Australians to lead the underwater search for the airplane. Who knows, she asks, what political manoeuvering was going on behind the scenes? And why did the Australians give the contract for the operation to a Dutch company, Fugro World Wide, which had no real record in the search and salvage industry, and no equipment at the time? And how did Fugro get away with not producing any publicly available data for two years?
The answer to those questions may well be, as Walt has suggested more than once, that the Powers That Be didn't want the wreckage of MH370 to be found. If that were so, it would make sense to let innocents and incompetents do the looking. It would make even more sense to point them in the wrong direction, towards a deep part of the Indian Ocean off the west coast of Australia. I'll say it again. They've been looking in the wrong place! If proof is wanted, consider the finding of five (count 'em, 5) pieces of debris, all on the shores of southern Africa and adjacent islands.
So what really happened? What is it that the "authorities" and "experts" don't want the world to know? Agent 78 has walked me through a blog by Chen Guangwen, a Chinese writer, who reckons that both the Americans and the Chinese know the truth of it, but won't tell for reasons which will be apparent momentarily. This is going to take awhile, so stay with me....
It all started (Mr Chen writes) when the Americans pulled out of Afghanistan, leaving behind some highly sophisticated drone software which would enable the user to take over any plane's avionics and fly it by remote control, turning it into a guided missile. That software fell into the hands of the Taliban, who didn't know what to do with it, but did know that it would have enormous value to any country seeking military superiority for whatever reason. So who could they sell it to? The Americans already had the technology. The Russians were enemies. So how about... wait for it... the Chinese?
Mr Chen says that the Taliban, through the agency of its branch in Pakistan (possibly with the connivance of the Pakistani government) sold the lot to the Chinese. But there remained the question of how to get the "black boxes" to China. The solution? Send them via Pakistan to Malaysia -- both countries being sympathetic to Islamic militants -- thence onward to Beijing by... Malaysian Airlines.
Of course! The "black boxes" -- engines of digital sabotage -- were in the cargo hold of MH370! This theory would account as well for the presence on the passenger manifest of several Chinese computer and electronics experts.
Trouble was, it's hard to keep something like this a secret. There are spies everywhere. Chinese spies, Russian spies, British spies, not to mention American spies -- the CIA. Chen Guangwen theorizes that the CIA got wind of the deal and made it a priority to keep the Chinese from getting their hands on the devices. The problem was how to interdict the shipment without admitting that they (the Americans) had not only developed the technology but carelessly let it fall into the hands of a bunch of crazy Muslim extremists?
The answer? Give the invention a trial run, using MH370 as the test vehicle and its passengers as human guinea pigs! It was the American military, then, using an AWACS (Airborne Warning and Control System -- my emphasis) plane operating from the American base on Diego Garcia, who caused MH370 to deviate from its flight path and turn to the west-northwest, towards the Maldives, the Andaman Islands (Indian territory) and ultimately Diego Garcia.
If all this sounds vaguely familiar, it's because I wrote something along those lines not a month after MH370 disappeared from the radar screens. See "MH370: Suppose it was a test..." WWW 5/4/14
What happened next (back to Mr Chen now) is that, under the control of the Americans, MH370 landed in the Maldives to refuel and (possibly) some of the pax. (There were a couple of Americans and Israelis on board.) Walt doubts that the plane actually landed, but remembers a report in Paris Match by French author Marc Dugain -- a former CEO of Proteus Airlines -- whose investigation took him to the Maldives, where residents told local media on March 9th (the day the plane disappeared) that they had seen an airliner fly in the direction of Diego Garcia.
"I saw a huge plane fly over us at low altitude," a fisherman on Kudahuvadhoo island told M Dugain. "I saw red and blue stripes on a white background" –- the colours of Malaysia Airlines. Other witnesses confirmed the sighting, but their claims were promptly dismissed by "the authorities". See "MH370 - Just fancy that!"
Mr Chen also thinks that the B777 eventually reached Diegp Garcia, where, he says, the Americans refuelled it, and then flew it -- still by remote control -- to the south, somewhere over the south-western part of the Indian Ocean, where they caused it to plunge into a very deep watery grave. That would account for the five pieces of debris which have washed up on the shores of Réunion, Madagascar and South Africa. What happened to the pax and crew? They, or at least their bodies, were probably still on board when MH370 was sunk.
So there you have it. Except for the part about landing in the Maldives, I find Chen Guangwen's narrative entirely plausible. Will the Chinese and/or the Americans confirm or deny it? Errr, probably not. (Lifetime pct .981.)