Most have discounted the possibility of an air to air missile taking down MH17 as the recent Russian MOD briefing suggested as a possible scenario. Up to now, I’ve also considered this as the least likely explanation. All eyes are on the BUK. But is this a case of sleight of hand, a misdirection? Perhaps.
Let’s take a closer look at the air to air missile theory. The most probable missile that would have been used is the R-60. The NATO designation is AA-8 Aphid. The R-60 weights only 44 kg (100 lbs) and can be launched from a wide range of high performance jets, including the SU-25. Even the HIND attack helicopter can use it. It’s warhead uses either a 3 or 3.5 kg high explosive charge surrounded by a tungsten expanding rod. Some versions have an additional 1.6 kg of depleted uranium for increased lethality. It uses a proximity fuze. That is an important point.
Some analysis of damage found on part of MH17 suggest a proximity explosion slightly below and ahead of the planes port wing. NBC News use this information to confirm that it was an SA-11 missile because an infrared guided air to air missile would have hit an engine. I always thought that would be the case since my experience was with the Redeye which tracks the aircraft’s hot exhaust and detonates on impact, usually up a jet engine’s ass end. The NBC News analysts obviously were working with the same limited and dated understanding as I had.