Penang to Mekar: 2 radars? or maybe just 1?
It is rather frustrating but IMO we cannot prune the tree of possibilities for the radar scenario because we miss one critical piece of data. Just one "corroborated" position with altitude around Pulau Perak would let us firm up the scenario.
Instead we are left with several candidate scenarios:
i) straight cruise from IGARI to somewhere around MEKAR, but why didn't the Thais and Indonesian radars collect lots of data, and if they did why do the Malaysians keep all that data secret? And if the data is "secret", why not put in the Prelim that the a/c was at approx 32,000ft near Pulau perak, for instance.
ii) one radar essentially at sea level at Butterworth AB
. Could be the fixed one on a tower at Butterworth AB
(that was my original scenario back in April). But RMAF has alos deployed a Thales-Raytheon phased array S-band GM400 that could be either fixed or mobile, location unknown.
iii) the track up to the white circle from a radar at Butterworth AB
(the track appears just after exiting the shadow of Pulau Pinang) and the track after the white circle captured by the RAT-31 DL
on top of Pulau Pinang after it is turned on.
I would like to add one more. The RAT-31 DL
would capture the whole track shown on the radar plot. Why would the a/c only appear when it did, to the west of Pulau Pinang? There should not have been any shadowing issue.
I am suggesting the following:
- during the night at least, the antenna was not rotating. Because we can expect the phased array antenna to operate /- 60deg from boresight, the radar could just stare at the Straits with 120deg coverage in azimuth. Of course no tracking of target to the south or to the east in that case.
- the RAT-31DL
can use complex pulses. According to some who had to deal with interferences in L-band coming from RAT-31 DL
, the pulse could be as long as 800microsec. So when operating in that mode, the radar could be blind within a 67nm radius around the antenna. The a/c appears about 61nm from the radar antenna which might be the blind limit with a roughly 700microsec pulse.
Of course, the foregoing is totally hypothetical, based on conjectures rather than facts.
Just note that if the Pulau PInang radar were to be responsible for the whole radar plot, the a/c would most likely have had to drop to a very low altitude (approx 3,500ft) to explain the white circle.