Missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 was ‘shot down in military training exercise’ claims first book released about lost jet

Book written by London-based journalist and author suggests families will ‘almost certainly’ never know what happened

The missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 was shot down during a joint Thai-US military training exercise and then the subject of an elaborate international cover-up – according to a book released about the lost plane that has caused anger among the relatives of those on board.

Tomorrow, just 71 days after the Boeing 777 vanished en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, Flight MH370: The Mystery will go on sale in Australia, the Sun-Herald reported.

It has been written by the Anglo-American journalist and author Nigel Cawthorne, who describes his London-based home as a “book-writing factory” and is most famous for his Sex Lives series of “salacious tales” about the rich and famous.

Cawthorne introduces his book by claiming that the families of MH370’s passengers will “almost certainly” never be sure what happened to their loved ones.

But he goes on to support one theory, based on the eye-witness testimony of New Zealand oil rig worker Mike McKay, that the plane was shot down shortly after it stopped communicating with air traffic controllers.

At the time there was a series of war games taking place in the South China Sea involving Thailand, the US and personnel from China, Japan, Indonesia and others, and Cawthorne has linked this to Mr McKay’s claims to have seen a burning plane going down in the Gulf of Thailand.

“The drill was to involve mock warfare on land, in water and in the air, and would include live-fire exercises,'' Cawthorne said.

“Say a participant accidentally shot down Flight MH370. Such things do happen. No one wants another Lockerbie [Pan Am flight 103 by terrorists in 1988 allegedly in retaliation for a US Navy strike on an Iranian commercial jet six months earlier], so those involved would have every reason to keep quiet about it.”

Cawthorne then suggests that “another black box” could have been dropped off the coast of Australia to divert the efforts of search teams. “After all, no wreckage has been found in the south Indian Ocean, which in itself is suspicious,” he wrote.

mh370-the-mystery.jpg Irene Burrows, whose son and daughter-in-law were passengers on board MH370 when it disappeared, told the Sun-Herald of her anger at the book’s release.

“Nobody knows what happened so why would anyone want to put out a book at this stage?” she said.

“There's absolutely no answers. It's devastating for the families. It's 10 weeks tomorrow and there's nothing.”

The release of Cawthorne’s book came as Rupesh Paul promoted a film to be made about the missing plane, entitled The Vanishing Act, at the Cannes Film Festival.

Though associate director Sritama Dutta said the film had “no similarities” to MH370 because the “true facts keep changing every day”, a trailer posted to YouTube yesterday and promotional posters suggest it reveals “the untold story” of the Malaysia Airlines flight.

Paul told Variety he plans to release the film worldwide in September. In March, an Australian film called Deep Water was shelved because it contained “uncomfortable similarities” to the disappearance of MH370.