Old BUK shot down MH17 & Lone Wolves

So its confirmed.  A Russian-made BUK missile was used to shoot down Malaysian Airlines MH17 over the Ukraine last year.  Forget the snarling and gnashing of teeth by conspiracy theorists,  its very clear from the evidence presented at the time and journalists who watched that the BUK was used by Russian-backed rebels.   Now Dutch investigators have confirmed what we already knew but couldn’t say so until the inquiry ruled.

BUK. Courtesy of Wikipedia
BUK. Courtesy of Wikipedia

If you don’t believe it, take a look here.

But its no time to point fingers, is it?  The dead,  all 298 of them,  have loved ones who’re still trying to come to terms with this event.

The big question is why didn’t Malaysian Airlines order its pilots to fly around the Ukraine?  The region has been gripped by a violent separatist-inspired war.  Most other airlines had deviated or were flying higher than 28 000 feet to avoid being struck by stray missiles.

The pilots had asked for permission to climb for specifically that reason and were denied their request.  It’s easy to sit here and use 20:20 vision in the classic display of hind-sight-ism and says stuff like “why didn’t the pilots turn back immediately”.  This had fatal consequences for all on board, though.

As the apologists of Moscow and Nato used the event to grandstand – bodies littered the fields below and rained down on a village.  No amount of waxing lyrical about who’s to blame will bring them back.

After the horror event,  Russian-backed rebels moved their BUK launcher away rapidly after it became clear that they’d shot down an airliner.  The great weight of evidence proves without a shadow of a doubt that the rebels thought they were shooting down a Ukraine military aircraft.  Only later was that official rebel line altered to include Western Fighter jets,  Ukraine fighter jets and ground-to-air missiles fired by the Ukrainian military.

The families won’t get their closure.

Moscow will ensure that the narrative is all about some Ukraine military jet nearby that fired a missile,  while the NATO alliance will talk up the dangers of the Russian bear and its minions.

Russia was at pains at the to either deny or then defend the “donation” of the 70’s era BUK system to the rebels – but they’ve got a large stash available for use/purchase by friends and friends of friends.

I just think that those really culpable here aren’t the soldiers who fired the missile,  nor the rebels, nor Russia/NATO.

It’s the Malaysian Airlines executive and board.  And that’s clear from the dismal business and aviation record notched up by the airline.  The terrible reality for the Dutch, Australian, Malaysian and other relatives of the victims is that MH has no money.  It’s skint. So there’s little chance that any form of financial compensation will be paid by anyone.

So look out for the usual suspects on their hind legs shouting at each other about culpability.  Russia TV will broadcast its nightly melange of reality tripe and mash.  Dutch investigators will be calmly explaining that they’re not apportioning blame while Ukraine nationalists will spew their usual hatred back towards their eastern peers.

Back home,  the families will listen enraged, frustrated.

If I was those involved I would be a little worried about a lone wolf from one of these countries pitching up and taking direct and violent action against Malaysian Airlines, Russia, or representatives of the Separatists.


Who shot down Malaysian Airlines MH17?


Another Malaysian Airliner down.  This time its taken out by a missile fired from the eastern Ukraine.  While Moscow hurriedly tries to cover its tracks with regards to missile technology it has exported to the Russian separatists – and here I mean the BUK system – there are signs to follow allowing reasonable people to point a finger.

Raymond Pronk
Raymond Pronk

From the professional pilots rumour network or PPRUNE:

“BREAKING NEWS: Russia foreign minister Lavrov says Moscow does not plan to take “black box” flight recorders from pro-russian separatists in eastern Ukraine”

But the black boxes are not going to tell us much more than where the missile struck.  And by all accounts, given the fact that the tail section separated early, it appears we know what brought it down.

Who fired the missile?  The multimillion dollar question.  And why did Malaysian Airlines continue to fly a route that was dangerous?  Pilots talking on PPRUNE have repeatedly warned about the Ukraine corridor.

Looking at this event,  its clear that Russia is in a spot of bother.  While it would serve Kiev to have the rebels blamed,  the events immediately after the crash are illuminating.

1) Pro-Russian rebels congratulated themselves on downing an Antonov 26.  Propaganda arm Russian TV then report that minutes earlier, a Ukranian military plane was downed by the “heroes”.

2) Within half an hour,  rebels realise that the bodies falling from the sky include women and children.  And the plane is clearly a civilian airline.

3)Recordings begin circulating of pro-Russian separatists talking about the error.  These are quickly expunged from the internet.

4) Video recordings on youtube of a rebel placed BUK system in a nearby village mysteriously vanish.  Fortunately alert web-harvesters quickly download before Moscow/rebels/whomever removes them.


A Buk-M1-2 SAM system 9A310M1-2 TELAR at 2005 - courtesy Wikipedia
A Buk-M1-2 SAM system 9A310M1-2 TELAR at 2005 – courtesy Wikipedia

It’s now thought that the rebels may have committed a cardinal sin in shooting down a civilian aircraft.  And before pro-Putin folks leap up and shout this down – consider that the rebels have been very successful in doing just that. Shooting down planes.  Here is a list from the last few weeks:

  • seven Su-25 attack jets
  • three Su-24 attackers
  • one Su-27 fighter jet
  • an Il-76 military transport aircraft
  • SEVENTEEN  Mi-8 and Mi-24 military helicopters.

Clearly the rebels had mobilised their ground-to-air missile capability and were practicing a lot.  And what better to practice on than a plane that appears on their BUK radar (which can track planes for 140km) and high enough to be a spy plane from the west.  While Air France amongst others has flown this route, the MH17 track is much closer to their BUK launch vehicles than previously.  So a semi-vodka induced thug sitting inside one of these mobile units picks up the cursor on his radar – tracks the plane until its overhead and BAM!

While Vladimir Putin points his finger at Kiev and Lavrov indulges in red herrings (eg, the black boxes which matter only a little in this case),  the initial evidence is rather damning.  One wonders what spin is to emerge from Moscow this time.  And one wonders what Kuala Lumpur will do.

Given the Malaysian government’s utterly useless reaction to their previous air disaster – who knows?