"Each night for more than a week, unregistered flights between Yangon and
Kunming have been transporting unknown goods and personnel from China to
Myanmar. The military regime that’s now in charge of Myanmar is trying very
hard to hide the flights. The Chinese government and Myanmar Airways have
claimed the planes were carrying seafood exports. However, the details of the
flights in question make that highly unlikely.
When the Myanmar military, the Tatmadaw, took over the country, it banned
international flights. Very few flights are now using Yangon airport, and even
fewer are flying internationally. But averaging five flights a night, up to
three planes have been making trips to Kunming in southern China. Two of the
planes are painted with Myanmar Airways colours and the other is unmarked. All
of them are leased from private firms, so they should be in good working order.
Whoever has arranged these flights is going to great lengths to hide them. The
planes’ transponders have been turned off, a violation of international
aviation rules. We know the transponders work because we can see that they have
been turned off for specific flights and then turned on for others. Beyond
that, the Kunming Airport hasn’t registered them online as arrivals. Flight
data is often missing from international flight databases, including flight
numbers, call signs and even destinations. The failure to include scheduled
departure and arrival times, as opposed to the actual times, makes it
particularly difficult to track them on open-source flight databases.
But we do have the information sent via satellite from the engines (akin to
what was used to investigate the fate of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370). And
airport workers in Yangon and members of Myanmar’s civil disobedience movement
opposed to the military coup have posted photos on Twitter from the airport of
flight details and nightly arrivals and departures of the planes."
Open source intelligence.
*** Xanni ***
Chief Scientist, Xanadu
Partner, Glass Wings
Manager, Serious Cybernetics