Report: Russian-made Buk Missile Downed MH17

After a 15-month investigation, the Dutch Safety Board has concluded a Russian-made Buk surface-to-air missile shot down the Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 over the Ukraine in 2014.

The Dutch Safety Board on Tuesday issued a report that stated the July 2014 crash of MH17 flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur was caused by a warhead launched in the eastern part of Ukraine from a Buk missile system.

The warhead exploded less than a meter from the cockpit, instantly killing the pilots and shearing a hole in the Boeing 777 airliner. The plane broke apart as it fell to Earth, killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew on board.

Here's the section of the press release that describes the incident:

"The investigation has shown that flight MH17 progressed normally up to the moment when the aeroplane was flying over the eastern part of Ukraine. At 13.20 UTC (Coordinated Universal Time) a 9N314M warhead, launched by a Buk surface-to-air missile system from a 320-square-kilometre area in the eastern part of Ukraine, detonated to the left and above the cockpit. The forward section of the aircraft was penetrated by hundreds of high-energy objects coming from the warhead. As a result of the impact and the subsequent blast, the three crew members in the cockpit were killed immediately and the aeroplane broke up in the air. Wreckage from the aeroplane was distributed over various sites within an area of 50 square kilometres. All 298 occupants were killed.

"The Dutch Safety Board has established the cause of the crash on the basis of several sources. For example, the weapon system used was identified on the basis of, among other things, the damage pattern on the wreckage, the fragments found in the wreckage and in the bodies of crew members, and the way in which the aircraft broke up. The findings are supported by the data on the flight recorders; the Cockpit Voice Recorder picked up a sound peak during the final milliseconds. In addition, traces of paint on a number of missile fragments found match the paint on parts of a missile recovered from the area by Dutch Safety Board. Other potential causes, such as an explosion inside the aeroplane or an air-to-air missile, have been investigated and excluded. No scenario other than a Buk surface-to-air missile can explain this combination of facts."

Nevertheless, the Russians were quick to dismiss the findings and asked the United Nations to open a new investigation into the tragedy.

Speaking Wednesday in Moscow, Oleg Storchevoy, deputy head of the Russian Federal Aviation Agency, said of the wreckage, "In fact, on the skin covering the Boeing 777, there is no single hole which would indicate that the plane was shot by a BUK M1. There is no damage which would confirm the form of the destructive agent, the butterfly-shaped shrapnel," according to the Associated Press.

Indeed, even before the Dutch Safety Board released its report, Mikhail Malyshevsky, an adviser to the director general of the state-controlled Almaz-Antei consortium that makes the Buk missiles, suggested that the plane was downed by a model of Buk that is no longer in service with the Russian military but that was part of the Ukrainian military arsenal, according to the AP.

Almaz-Antei director Yan Novikov, center, looks at the screen during a news conference in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015. Almaz-Antei air defense consortium, the builder of Buk missiles, presented its vision of the MH-17 air crash based on a new modeling of the disaster they recently conducted. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin) Caption: Almaz-Antei director Yan Novikov, center, looks at the screen during a news conference in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Oct. 13, 2015. Almaz-Antei air defense consortium, the builder of Buk missiles, presented its vision of the MH-17 air crash based on a new modeling of the disaster they recently conducted. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)

 

Interestingly, the Dutch report also faults Ukrainian authorities for letting commercial air traffic continue to pass through its airspace even despite rising attacks between military forces and pro-Russian separatists. "It is clear that Ukraine already had sufficient reason to close the airspace over the eastern part of Ukraine as a precaution before 17 July 2014," it states. But shouldn't have airlines and other governments taken more precautions, as well?

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