Thailand’s military said on Tuesday that its radar detected a plane — that may have been Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 — just minutes after the jetliner’s communications went down, and that it didn’t share the information with Malaysia earlier because it wasn’t specifically asked for it.
At 1.28 a.m., Thai Air Force spokesman Air Vice-Marshal Montol Suchookorn said, military radar “was able to detect a signal, which was not a normal signal, of a plane flying in the direction opposite from the MH370 plane,” back toward Kuala Lumpur. The plane later turned right, toward Butterworth, a Malaysian city along the Strait of Malacca. The radar signal was infrequent and did not include any data such as the flight number.
Thailand’s failure to quickly share possible information may not substantially change what Malaysia knows, but it raises questions about the degree to which some countries are sharing their defence information. It took Malaysia a week to confirm that Flight 370 had entered the strait, an important detail that led it to change its search strategy.
Asked why it took so long to release the information, Air Vice Marshal Montol said, “Because we did not pay any attention to it. The Royal Thai Air Force only looks after any threats against our country, so anything that did not look like a threat to us, we simply look at it without taking actions.”