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Disturbing new theories emerge over MH17 shoot-down

October 22, 2014 Aviation, Headline News 1 Comment Email Email

egtmedia59The theory that a Russian separatist group in the Ukraine shot down Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 with an anti-aircraft missile system supplied by Russia has come under challenge.

Ukraine and Western governments have accused pro-Russian separatist fighters of using a BUK surface-to-air system slipped over the border by Russia to blow the aircraft out of the sky. Moscow has denied the charges, saying the model of BUK weapon supposedly involved is used by Ukrainian armed forces, not Russian.

A couple of days ago, the head of Germany’s BND foreign spy agency, Gerhard Schindler, said intelligence now indicates that the lethal missile wasn’t a Russian-supplied weapon, after all. Pro-Russian rebels had captured a BUK system from a Ukrainian base and used it to fire a missile that exploded directly next to the plane, Spiegel magazine reported.

This is a significant shift in the story. Such a scenario would require the pro-Russian fighters who purportedly captured the Ukrainian BUK missile system to be able to operate it. Training is required to do that – it is not like finding a loaded rifle and firing it.

IHS Jane’s Missiles & Rockets editor Doug Richardson, one of the foremost experts in the field, says that when fielded, a BUK firing battery consists of:

  • the 9S18M1Target Acquisition Radar used to acquire potential aerial targets, and transmit their position and tracks to:
  • the 9S470M1 Command Post (CP) vehicle (contains the missile battery’s data display and control system; digital fire-control computer, which assigns targets to individual launchers, and computes the engagement)
  • one or more 9A310M1S launchers each armed with four radar-guided missiles.

All three of these systems are vehicle-mounted.

“Operating Buk hardware would require a trained crew – personnel who are currently trained operators, or who learned how to operate the hardware while serving as conscripts,” Richardson says.

MAS flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur crashed on July 17 as it flew over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine, killing all 298 people aboard, including 38 Australian citizens or residents.

A continuing international probe led by the Dutch (two thirds of passengers aboard came from the Netherlands) has not yet established the identity of the perpetrators of the atrocity. A preliminary report issued in September said only that the plane crashed as a result of structural damage caused by a “large number of high-energy objects” that struck from outside.

Russia’s RT News has reported a claim that Russian military detected a Ukrainian SU-25 fighter jet gaining height towards flight MH17 on the day of the catastrophe.

Adding to the mystery, former Lufthansa pilot Peter Haisenko, a German who writes variously on aviation, economics, history and politics, says he has examined images of MH17 wreckage circulating on the internet and come to a disturbing conclusion.

According to Haisenko, one image featured in several magazines and said to be a fragment of the cockpit below the window on the pilot’s side, “shows traces of shelling”, presumably from a fighter aircraft machine gun, with a series of holes. To see that image, click here Cockpit-MH01.

“You can see the entry and exit holes,” Haisenko writes. “The edge of a portion of the holes is bent inwards. These are the smaller holes, round and clean, showing the entry points most likely that of a 30 millimetre calibre projectile. The edge of the other, the larger and slightly frayed exit holes showing shreds of metal pointing produced by the same calibre projectiles. Moreover, it is evident that at these exit holes of the outer layer of the double aluminium reinforced structure are shredded or bent – outwardly.”

Haisenko says that a typical SU-25 is equipped with a double-barrelled 30-mm gun, type GSh-302/AO-17A, equipped with a 250-round magazine of anti-tank incendiary shells and splinter-explosive shells arranged in alternating order.

Haisenko concludes that MH17 was machine gunned from the air. He says that contrary to earlier reports, an SU-25 can fly at high enough altitude to do it. His arguments in support of that can be read here, in English, for those interested:

The jury is still out. Strong evidence links pro-Russian rebels to the shoot-down. For a good summation of that case, see:

Like many catastrophic events, the tragedy has become a magnet for conspiracy theorists. Hopefully the Dutch investigation will help establish exactly what did happen, and investigators will regain full, unrestricted access to the site before the winter snows begin.

Written by : Peter Needham

Currently there is "1 comment" on this Article:

  1. Tony Abbott has said Australians on MH017 “were murdered by Russian backed rebels using Russian supplied equipment”. What are we even discussing? A jury is redundant.

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