Lack of radar could be reason why Malaysian airliner shot down in Ukraine

Lack of radar could be reason why Malaysian airliner shot down in Ukraine

“They could easily make a tragic mistake and shoot down a passenger plane”


LONDON — If Ukrainian rebels shot down the Malaysian jetliner, killing 298 people, it may have been because they didn’t have the right systems in place to distinguish between military and civilian aircraft, experts said Saturday.

American officials said Friday that they believe the Boeing 777 was brought down by an SA-11 missile fired from an area of eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian separatists. U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power said the Russians might have provided technical help to the rebels to operate the systems.

But to function correctly, an SA-11 launcher, also known as a Buk, is supposed to be connected to a central radar command – as opposed to acting alone – to be certain of exactly what kind of aircraft it is shooting at.

From the information that has come to light so far, the rebels don’t appear to have such systems, said Pavel Felgenhauer, a respected defence columnist for Novaya Gazeta, a Moscow-based newspaper known for its critical coverage of Russian affairs.

“They could easily make a tragic mistake and shoot down a passenger plane when indeed they wanted to shoot down a Ukrainian transport plane,” he said.

On Friday, Russia’s state-owned RIA Novosti news agency also quoted Konstantin Sivkov, director of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems, as saying Buk missiles “should be provided with external systems of target identification, that is, radio-location systems. It’s an entire system. And the insurgents certainly don’t have radio-location.”

Without a backup, a missile can be fired by operators who are not totally sure of what they are aiming at.

“Just seeing a blip on a radar screen was in no away sufficient to make a targeting decision,” said Keir Giles, associate fellow for international security and Russia and Eurasia programs at the Royal Institute of International Affairs. “You need an additional radar system to which these weapons systems can be connected for additional information.”

Social media postings from the rebels in the immediate aftermath of Thursday’s Malaysia Airlines disaster also suggested they had assumed civilian aircraft were avoiding the area and that anything in the air was hostile.

If a missile was fired without attempting to identify the aircraft, the destruction of Malaysia Flight 17 would be an act of criminal negligence, said retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Robert Latiff. He said commercial airliners operate on known communications frequencies and emit signals that identify them and give their altitude and speed.

“It doesn’t sound like the separatists were using any of this (information), or tried for that matter,” said Latiff, who oversaw advanced weapons research and development for the Air Force and now teaches at the University of Notre Dame.

“My guess is the system’s radar saw a return from a big ‘cargo’ plane flying at 30,000 feet or so and either automatically fired, or some aggressive, itchy operator fired, not wanting to miss an opportunity. It doesn’t seem they chose to seek any additional data before pulling the trigger,” Latiff said.

A NATO military officer, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to make public statements, said a Buk launcher, which is a self-propelled tracked vehicle resembling a tank, is ordinarily under the orders of a separate command post vehicle.

“In a totally textbook way of setting up, the command post vehicle assigns targets and designates the firing units, launcher 1 or launcher 2,” the NATO officer said.

Once targeted by such a potent weapon, the Boeing wide-body twinjet would have had little chance. Edward Hunt, a senior consultant for IHS Jane’s, which provides news and analysis on defence and geopolitical issues, said a commercial plane is not a difficult target for someone who knows how to operate a surface-to-air missile system.

“Civilian aircraft fly in a straight line,” Hunt said. “A civilian aircraft doesn’t try to take evasive action. It probably didn’t even know it was targeted.”

In her remarks to the U.N. Security Council, Power said that a journalist had reported seeing an SA-11 system early Thursday in separatist-controlled territory near Snizhne, “and separatists were spotted hours before the incident with an SA-11 SAM system close to the site where the plane came down.”

Power didn’t identify the reporter. But on Thursday, AP journalists saw a rocket launcher near Snizhne.

Rebels also bragged in June 29 report carried by Russia’s Itar-Tass news agency that they had gotten hold of some Buk missile systems from Ukrainian stocks, though they did not say how many or describe their condition.

A few weeks later, rebels shot down a Ukrainian Antonov 26, a military transport plane that can fly at altitudes of up to 7,500 metres (24,750 feet).

If Thursday’s disaster was due to mistaken identity, it would not be the first.

Soviet air defences in 1983 accidentally shot down Korean Airlines Flight 007, killing 269. In 1988, the USS Vincennes, a guided missile cruiser, brought down Iran Air Flight 655, with 290 people aboard, after mistaking it for an attacking warplane.

In October 2001, Siberian Airlines Flight 1812, travelling from Tel Aviv, Israel, to Novosibirsk, Russia, plunged into the Black Sea, killing all 78 aboard. The Ukrainian military at first denied responsibility, but later admitted its military mistakenly shot down the plane during a training exercise.


Lack of radar could be reason why Malaysian airliner shot down in Ukraine

  1. Yup, entirely possible. A simple mistake by some cork-brain on the ground….and it’s raining bodies.

    One in a long line of planes shot down because we insist on playing with guns.

  2. And of course Russia’s just set up a rival to the Western-dominated IMF with the BRICS…..

    Shift happens.

      • Between 2001 and 2013, the collective GDP of those four countries grew 240% from US$5.6 trillion to $13.6 trillion. Now, a strengthening West and flagging BRIC performance are spawning predictions that 2014 will be the year when the tables are turned.

        Recently the UK-based Centre for Economics and Business Research lowered its predictions for BRIC growth. Brazil’s slide from a go-to country for foreign investors to struggling courtier was illustrated by President Dima Rouseff’s speech at the Davos World Economic Forum, where she beseeched industry leaders to “bear in mind a medium and long term horizon in our reviews.”

        Russia’s already uncertain outlook now faces the impact of tightening economic sanctions.

        India’s banks are facing a mountain of bad loans and corruption is rampant. Going into the recent national election, nearly a third of parliamentarians were facing criminal proceedings. This along with class-based discrimination, violence against women and abysmal law enforcement continues to deter potential investors. Now the hopes of Indians fall on the shoulders of newly- elected president Narendra Modi, who vows dramatic reforms.

        That brings us to China, the fourth and mightiest BRIC. A recent report from the Globe and Mail highlighted the issues that I personally observed during my many visits to the country as a director of China’s largest foreign bank. These include massive over-building of infrastructure and factories often with collusion by corrupt public officials bribed to circumvent environmental laws and obtain financing, leaving hundreds of billions of dollars in bad loans sitting as ticking time bombs on the balance sheets of government banks.

        China’s growth rate, which hit a high of 14% a few years ago, is expected to drop to 7% in 2014. Likewise, India’s apex growth rate of 10% has fallen to half that level. Brazil’s growth rate, which peaked at 6%, is expected to be under 2% this year.

        The Economist predicts that BRIC’s $98 billion growth lead over the G4 (US, Japan, Britain and Germany) in 2013 will reverse to fall $44 billion behind the G4 this year. That’s a massive year-over-year reversal of $142 billion in favour of the G4. The US is expected to add more to global economic growth than China in 2014 and Japan will add more than India.

        • Gwyn Morgan?? AHAHAHAHAHAHA


          It’s already done BB. Move on.

          • You really don’t grasp anything at all, especially reality.

        • Then don’t talk to me. Simple solution.

  3. KIEV, Ukraine — The United States has confirmed that Russia supplied sophisticated missile launchers to separatists in eastern Ukraine and that attempts were made to move them back across the Russian border after the Thursday shoot-down of a Malaysian jet liner, a U.S. official said Saturday.

    “We do believe they were trying to move back into Russia at least three Buk [missile launch] systems,” the official said. U.S. intelligence was “starting to get indications…a little more than a week ago” that the Russian launchers had been moved into Ukraine, said the official.

    • BWAHAHAHAHAHA…still at it eh?

      Have a nice evening BillyBob.

    • stop your flag waving BB.
      Putin ain’t that stupid. We don’t even know if those Seperatists weren’t setup ?

      The Seperatists also shot down Ukrainian Military jets, which is fair game.
      … but the who, why, and where’s behind this passenger-plane tragedy-we may never actually know, BUT, and only but if the “Seperatists” did shoot down that Commercial Passenger plane?, then they’re war is now over, and they’ve lost credibility, not to mention they should face a firing-squad of their peers.

      Anyway, the stupidist people in this whole tragedy is “Malaysian Airlines”, for flying directly over a “war zone” in the first place !

      • The U.S. embassy in Kiev issued a strong statement Sunday pointing to Russian complicity in arming the rebels, saying it has concluded “that Flight MH17 was likely downed by a SA-11 surface-to-air missile from separatist-controlled territory in eastern Ukraine.” It said over the weekend of July 12-13, “Russia sent a convoy of military equipment with up to 150 vehicles, including tanks armored personnel carriers artillery, and multiple rockets launchers” to the separatists. The statement also said Russia was training separatist fighters in southwest Russia, including on air defense systems.

      • Ron Paul ran under the Libertarian banner in 1988 and garnered 0.47% of the vote, he’s a nut job, but at the opposite end of the political spectrum from you Rickster69.

        Not surprising that RT sought him out for comment.

  4. Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond says Russia “risks becoming a pariah state” by “continuing to obstruct the independent investigation” into the MH17 crash

    3:48PM BST 20 Jul 2014

    Russian President Vladimir Putin was accused of “obfuscation and obstruction” over the investigation into the apparent shooting down of flight MH17 by Moscow-backed separatists in eastern Ukraine, as the UK stepped up calls for tougher sanctions.

    Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said information so far pointed strongly to the conclusion that the plane had been shot down from territory held by pro-Russian separatists and the missile was almost certainly supplied by Russia.

    He said that unless Moscow’s position radically changed, Britain would be pushing more reluctant European states to agree to new sanctions and warned that Russia could end up in international isolation.

    “Russia risks becoming a pariah state” he said.

  5. “Britain is a small island nobody pays any attention to, apart from the Russian ­oligarchs who bought up Chelsea.”

    Putin’s spokesman

  6. With the threat of new EU sanctions now on the table, British Prime Minister David Cameron said the West must “fundamentally change our approach” to Russia unless Moscow alters course in Ukraine.
    Gontmakher said the gap between Russia and the West was widening dangerously, pointing to anti-Western official rhetoric and raging anti-US sentiment on national television.
    “The situation will only get worse,” he said, warning Russia could eventually find itself as isolated as Iran. “I am afraid we are moving in that direction.”
    Promoting Russia as an antithesis to the West has become a key Kremlin policy as Putin’s approval ratings soared after Crimea’s annexation, with dissident voices relegated to social media amid a persistent clampdown on dissent.

    • Heh heh

      “The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.” Alvin Toffler


  7. In a decision that could affect Russian oligarchs or members of the Kremlin inner circle, the EU leaders also asked the ministers to consider targeting people or companies “who actively provide material or financial support to the Russian decision-makers responsible for the annexation of Crimea or the destabilization of Eastern Ukraine.”

    Until now, the EU had targeted 72 people in Ukraine and Russia with asset freezes and visa bans, as well as two Crimea-based companies whose assets in EU member countries were ordered frozen.

    The ramped-up sanctions indicated European leaders’ exasperation over Russia’s failure to heed the demands they made at their last summit on June 27 to take specific actions to end the armed pro-Moscow revolt in Ukraine’s east

    • ROFLMAO……well BB, you continue playing Gutenberg on here while I get busy, cuz it’s time for me to go to work…..but thanx for the laughs.

      • The only block of wood around here is your head Emily, hope you had fun “working”, the washrooms better be spotless.

        • It was 8 am Monday morning in Beijing and Taipei….a busy time for me.

          But attacking me adds nothing to the topic here. If that’s all you’re going to do, I see no point in talking to you at all.

          I’m just sorry that a Canadian should be full of so much venom BB. I don’t know where you get it from…..but maybe some anger management classes would help you.

          • You’re projecting

  8. Beats me what the black boxes or flight recorders will tell them…..but then this whole thing has turned into a theatre of the absurd.