Malaysia air force assumed MH370 turned back at control tower's order

KUALA LUMPUR - The Royal Malaysian Air Force could have intercepted Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 when it veered off its scheduled flight path from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, turned west and re-crossed the Malay Peninsula, but it did not as it was assumed that the plane turned back at the order from the control tower.

The revelation came on Wednesday, as Deputy Defence Minister Abdul Rahim Bakri spoke in Parliament, Malaysiakini reported.

"We felt the turn back was by a friendly aircraft and the directive had come from the control tower," he said.

The plane, which vanished from civilian radar screens less than an hour after taking off in the early hours of March 8, was last detected by Malaysia's military radar at 2:40am.

The air force could not immediately establish the identity of the Boeing 777-200, but it classified the jet as "non-hostile".

After a 17-day fruitless search, Prime Minister announced on Monday that MH370 had crashed in the southern Indian Ocean based on satellite analysis from British firm Inmarsat. The 239 lives on board the flight were presumed lost.