by Scott Creighton
Turns out, Egyptair Flight MS804’s flight path took them right through the area they were holding the Phoenix Express 2016 joint naval drills in the Mediterranean Sea.
“This year’s exercise control group will be hosted at the NATO Maritime Interdiction Operations Training Center (NMIOTC) located in Souda Bay, Greece, but training will take place throughout the Mediterranean to include North African nations’ territorial waters.” Navy.mil
Here’s a map showing the last recorded position of Flight MS804 in relation to key points of Phoenix Express 2016 drill locations.
Since my map doesn’t do the official airspace divisions any justice, here’s a professional version from FlightRadar24.
That looks a little more official, doesn’t it?
Truth is, we still don’t know what happened to this airliner and speculation does no one any good. But, I think when information this critical is available, we need to report on it. Especially when you consider the nature of the drills themselves.
This was an Africom operation with a number of North African military officials taking leadership positions in the drills.
Participants of Phoenix Express have opportunities to enhance expertise in a number of areas: boarding techniques, search-and-rescue operations, medical casualty response, MOC to MOC communication, and maritime domain awareness tools…
A Combined Maritime Operation Center (CMOC), led and comprised of North African navy officers, will form at NMIOTC to manage at-sea operations.
While the exercise is facilitated by the U.S. Navy, senior leaders from North African navies have prominent roles in the exercise. A Moroccan officer will oversee the exercise control group; a Tunisian officer will oversee the CMOC; and an Algerian officer will oversee a five-ship surface action group participating in the at-sea phase. Navy.mil
Seems to me they had a large number of less-than well-trained naval officers from North African nations, calling the shots during the drills.
Is it possible someone made a mistake in identifying a potential drone target or let a cruise missile fly when they shouldn’t have?
Mistake or not, Africom is not the most popular entity on the continent. And certainly, an accidental shoot-down of a commercial airliner with 66 people on board would not help their PR efforts.
Again, we don’t know exactly what happened, but with the recent revelation that the plane turned suddenly to the left and then back to the right before it dropped off the radar, it damn sure seems to me at least a possibility that someone on that plane was taking evasive maneuvers in an attempt to avoid something closing in on them.
The fact that they also just happened to be in the middle of a joint naval training op with a bunch of under-trained African officers at the helm makes me wonder if event is hard to figure out as some are trying to make it.
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