The theory that the missing Malaysian aircraft could have been hijacked for a 9/11-type attack on India was debunked by the IAF and strategic experts who said it would not have escaped detection had it entered the Indian air space.
Senior IAF officers said India has multi-layered and seamless radar coverage over the areas suggested as the possible route for the aircraft in the theories in this regard.
The theory about the possibility of the plane, which has been missing for over a week -- being used as a missile to target India like the September 11, 2001 attack in New York -- was propagated by former US Deputy Secretary of State, Strobe Talbott.
In a tweet, he wrote, “Direction, fuel load and range now lead some to suspect hijackers planned a 9/11-type attack on an Indian city.”
Ruling out such a possibility, a senior IAF officer said, “In this case, the aircraft will have to enter India undetected for long hours before carrying out such an attack and this would be impossible due to the extensive radar coverage in the Northeast and the Western sectors of the country.”
In case any such aircraft is detected, the IAF has a Standard Operating Procedure. “If the aircraft is not identifying itself, it is intercepted and directed to follow our instructions. If it does not comply, it can be destroyed,” the officer said.
The IAF cited the example of an incident near Pakistan border when weather balloons had entered Indian territory and SU-30MKIs from air bases in Punjab were scrambled to identify them.
The force said it has also readied itself for 9/11 type attacks on important installations which are earmarked as Vital Areas/Vital Points and they are kept under the protection of the air defence systems.