« “We Choose The Moon” - TTG | Main | "What Did US Spy Satellites See in Ukraine?" by Robert Parry »

21 July 2014


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.


It is claer from the pictures of debris, that the airplane was hit by a missile which produced the typical shrapnel pattern of a heavy SAM.

A very good discussion and pictures of debris are found on "Augen geradeaus":


If you read German, there is also a lot of information on radar and work of air traffic controller. Some of the guys there are obviously German airforce officers with expertise in these fields.


In reply to Norbert M Salamon 21 July 2014 at 12:48 PM

Your browser retains your history in a local cache on your hard disk until cleared. This history is easily searchable handy if you can't remember the url of a page you visited but can remember something about its content. In this case typing Something like:

Russia provide satellite mh17

into the little search box your browser provides when showing your browser history might do it for you.



Check the technical data of a SU-25, it has without weapons a maximum service ceiling of 7000 meters and a maximum speed at sea hight of 950 km/h.

The Boeing was crusing with > 800 km/h at > 10.000 meters.

To follow or intercept a Boeing with an SU-25, that is a A-10 type of aircraft, would be a real achievement. Air force guys assume, that theorie is very likely nonsense.


All - And I have another question:

Why were the bodies and debris so concentrated? If it blew up as a result of a missile strike I would expect the bodies and debris to be far more dispersed than they were when rescuers/locals got there and started taking pictures. I also would not expect there to be enough aviation fuel left after a mid-air strike for there to be what looks to have been a fairly severe fire once it hit the ground.

It seems to me that the idea of an air to air missile (as backup???) should be considered even if only to dismiss it as a possibility.



Denis -

There have been reports for some time that two Ukraine SU-25's were tracking MH 17. Also some eyewitness reports of two parachutes at the time when Mh 17 debris was falling.

So this Russian military claim is not a completely new twist.


Dear David, Just trying to answer your question non-directly, it is reasonable to assume that classified assets outperform commercial assets.

David Habakkuk


Obviously, you have read the Russian claims. I quote from what was alleged by the head of the Main Operations Directorate of the HQ of Russia’s military forces, Lieutenant-General Andrey Kartopolov:

‘The SU-25 fighter jet can gain an altitude of 10km, according to its specification’. This would be equivalent to 32,08.34 feet. If this was the case, to intercept a plane flying just above this level would, contrary to what you suggest, appear to be rather easy.

There are, obviously, two possibilities. It could be that the Russian authorities have nailed their colours to the mast of a claim which can be easily refuted. Alternatively, it could be that your research is sloppy.

Obviously, we need to establish asap which alternative is correct.

(Just in case you did not read the Russian claims before commenting, they are available at:
http://rt.com/news/174412-malaysia-plane-russia-ukraine/ .)

Charles Dekle

When the lead clown Bozo Inskeep took over from Bob Edwards, he landed a long interview with Don Rumsfeld. He had been NPR's Pentagon correspondent. Talk about a love fest, I started shouting at the radio for them to get a room. If you add Cokie Roberts and Fiona Hill you have a nice start towards a circus clown car.

What drek!


Charles Dekle

To All,
That question about the visibility of a contrail is spot on. It was daytime and everyone has a cell phone with camera capability. So far there are no pictures in the MSM.

Also even if the separatists did fire at the plane I think that the ultimate blame lies with whomever fomented the coup in the first place. The decision to fly a civilian airliner over a war zone where airplanes had recently been shot down was very foolish. Especially if the decision reflected the desire to save a few pounds of fuel.



And Brookings is supported by Bullingdon Boy Nate Rothschild with his significant investment interests in the Ukraine.

So it was no surprise when the Ukrainian crisis went violent in February that their people were all in lockstep blaming Russia.

scott s.


A lot of the accusations, recriminations, etc that I have seen seem to parallel the concerns about the investigation of the TU-154m crash near Smolensk that killed Poland's President. There are still what might be called conspiracy theorists out there, but I think most reasonable people accept the final investigation report.

With respect to possibility of SA-11 shoot-down, I would like to see more technical data of the system and what was actually possessed by each party. My impression is that the SA-11 battery consists of a surveillance radar unit, and command and control unit, and a combined fire control radar/launching unit (there may also be a caisson with reloads). I assume multiple fire control/launching units can be driven from a single command and control unit.

In such a system, there could well be an autonomous auto or semi-auto mode for the fire control/launching unit which would not require prior tracking or designation from the surveillance and C&C units. This would typically be designed for self defense against SEAD threats, but I would expect it to be designed for fast moving, closing targets, not crossing targets at FL330. Understanding this would help (me at least) in assessing the possibility of the fire control tracking a "target of opportunity" without positive ID.

Charles Dekle

Col Lang and All,
There is one more thing that I would like to add. The MSM, "experts" and other talking heads have not addressed the allegation that the plane had drifted off course. The FAA and other Air Traffic Control (ATC) regulators around the world are in the process of introducing a new ATC system to replace most of the current radar controlled systems. This system is heavily GPS dependent and uses unencrypted messaging.

The following linked article in Aviation International News (AIN) by Matt Thurber makes the claim that the new system is insecure:
"The ADS-B system that is the cornerstone of the FAA’s NextGen ATC modernization plan is at risk of serious security breaches, according to Brad Haines, a hacker and network security consultant who is worried about ADS-B vulnerabilities."

You can find the hacker's presentation here:

I am not making any claims but only wondering if Malaysian Air had employed ADS-B (Automatic Dependent Surveillance Broadcast) on their fleet. If they have and the system was active over Ukraine then this is another avenue that should be explored.


FB Ali

I very much doubt that the Russian general would directly make a claim that could "be easily refuted".

When he talks publicly about having "video shots" of the approaching SU-25, he knows he will have to produce them before the enquiry commission. I doubt if they'd take the risk of being exposed as forgers.

nick b

scott s.

Here's a recent article from MIT Technology Review that might be helpful.


Also, if you're interested, this link has an interview with a Hungarian fellow who offers a free online SAM Simulator program. There is a link in the article to the program.



This statement has such sad overtones; brings to mind General Powell and all that bunch of sycophants in military outfit, which allowed Cheney to prevail with the apparent lies. The NPR and their chirping ladies and imbecile pundits do not help to the feeling of despair. If Rothchilds and likes are among the main puppeteers, than there is a basis for deep anxiety: the super-rich are completely detached from reality.

nick b

scott s.,

I left one link out. This is from the Aviationist: What it's like to be sitting behind a radar screen of an SA-11 BUK SAM system.


William R. Cumming

Thanks CP!


It's an interesting point. All technical points are interesting IMO. Nonsense? I dunno'.

Let's just assume that, as you claim, 7km is the max operating altitude for the Su-25 and MH17 was at 10km -- the delta is 3000m.

The range of the R-60 a-t-a carried by the Su-25 is 12 km according to RT. So, I don't see the problem you see.

My guess is that the range would be affected by the vertical component of the flight-path, and so perhaps 12 vertical km would not be possible, but surely (I know, quit calling you "Shirley" - sorry) the A-90 would have no problem overcoming a difference in altitude of only 3000m.

So I don't rank this theory as "nonsense" based on the specs you cite. There may be other reasons to doubt the Russian spin.

Fer instance, Russia is doing the ole' American lawyers' multi-defense tactic: My client's dog didn't bite your client's leg because first, my client's dog has no teeth, and second, my client doesn't have a dog.

I mean Russia, at least RT, is also pimping the story and putting "photo evidence" out that the Ukrainians had active BUK SAM units and used them.

Mr. Putin: C'mon, dude, like pick your story and stay with it -- you look like a fool.


"Service ceiling: 10,000 m (22,960 ft) clean, 9,000 m (30,000 ft) with max weapons"


but for all I know Putin, like me, got his info from Wikipedia rather than from the manufacturer.


for those interested: In a PS I have added some links on Svoboda and neo-Nazis in Ukraine in general.


I think the 31cm resolution is the resolution of a single pixel. Military sats might have a bit better resolution than that, but the "seeing beer bottles" raises improbability warning flags in my mind.

Physics as we understand it puts a limit on the resolution you can get out of a given size of optics, and at least as far as I know, I don't think spysats are using deployable optics for their primary mirrors. Though spacecraft optics isn't my main forte (my company is more focused on lower-precision deployable structures and space robotics).



CP, Thanks for your reply.

I raise the possibility that Russia might have supplied the Buk missile system, because I believe it was referenced in a Pentagon briefing delivered well before the rebels claimed capture. The border between that area of Ukraine and Russia is relatively open to transit of materiel; Russia certainly has stores of Buk systems.

Therefore, it is possible (please note that I did not say that this is the only thing that might have happened) that Russia might have been the supplier of the missile that brought the plane down. I believe that would be a more serious And I did say that I think that the rebels did come by the missiles on their own. To me that presents itself as the simplest, most logical series of events, that most closely matches the facts as currently known. Personally, I think that scenario might have an 85-95 percent confidence factor. Obviously other people think differently, and I am happy to listen to their point of view and their interpretation of the facts. Together, we might all learn something.

I raised other possibilities, because many things are possible, many things have been asserted, not all of the facts are conclusively known, and it is unwise to prematurely close off avenues of investigation too quickly. If someone does have all of the facts, it would be helpful for them to raise their hand and come to the front of the room.

I used conditional words like 'If' and 'Possibly' because I do not believe that there are sufficient facts in evidence to claim them as fact, and that those assertions made by others can well prove to be false or mistaken. However, many people have said said many things, some things perhaps more likely than others. I arranged to alternate possibilities in a somewhat roughly ascending set of severities for what that might mean for greater consequences. Could Putin have picked up a phone and ordered the plane be shot down? Yes. Could we prove it? Doubtful. Would he want to do that? Highly unlikely. I would classify such a thing as within the realm of possibility, but with almost negligible likelihood. Only if much strong evidence came to light to should it merit any further pursuit.

As for a Ukrainian deception, I believe I did entertain that, and found it a remote possibility I stated that a SA-11 located close to the rebel perimeter (as I saw outlined on someone's general map of the region a few days ago) would have been at the outer limits of its capability to bring the plane down where it was struck. I don't recall hearing of any such batteries being deployed in the region, but perhaps they are. I also don't recall any prior mention of Ukrainians firing any SAMs, but I could have missed that as well. If the missile was a SA-17, then it's range would be more comfortably within the performance envelope, as it would have greater range and speed.

If it can be shown that this is what the Ukrainian military or government has done, then it is most serious. It could cause a fall of the government, a reduction of foreign sympathy and support, collapse of actions against the rebels, etc. I would subject such a possibility to the same criteria as if the rebels had launched the missile: less sever if this had been a rash action by a poorly trained crew, greater severity if it had been authorized or facilitated further up the military chain of command, and of greatest severity should it have been ordered by the military command, political governance, or with the connivance of foreign governments. And again, I think it far more likely that the shootdown was a colossal blunder, undertaken with little thought and minimal input from outside the launcher.

The downing of the plane is a crime, and it deserves to be fairly and accurately investigated, and those responsible punished, whoever they may be. The severity of the crime increases with any level of premeditation, collusion, facilitation, and also increases should/as greater rank and political authority be involved. And I suppose we can start adding categories such as Accessory After the Fact, for the suppression, destruction, alteration and falsification of evidence in hopes of evading blame or placing blame on other parties.

Sadly, arriving at just conclusions can be a lengthy and fruitless process, as we see from other downings like KAL 007 and the Iranian jet that the USS Vincennes brought down. But the families of these victims deserve some scant measure of justice for this pointless loss of life.



An unencrypted ATC system? That's just asking for trouble.



I replied at greater length to CP above. Hopefully that made it's way through the ether.

I try to pay attention to a variety of sources and draw my own conclusions based on best evidence. I assume that every side and position wants to tell it's story in the most favorable way, and sometimes the truth is not essential to their mission. Thank you for informing me that skilled people make mistakes. I am not claiming special knowledge, infallibility, or the one true answer.

I do not see a similarity between poison gas shelling in Syria and the downing of a civilian jet in the Ukraine. At the time of the shelling I made at least one post here expressing the gravest doubt that the shells had been fired by the Syrian government. I also suggested that the use of poison gas in that instance provided leverage to com they might have.

In this case, I take the rebel radio transmission claiming the downing of a transport plane to be simple misidentification of the jet for a transport. How many planes were witnessed falling at that time, and how many wrecks have been identified? Misidentification also suggest poor or incomplete training, lack of additional methods of identification, and excessive haste in firing the missile - circumstances that to me seem to lend credence to the likelihood that it was a rebel squad that fired the missile with little, if any other input.

One similarity in both of these cases - thank you for letting me think this through - is that I did not give the pronouncements of the US State Department nearly as much weight as other sources of information. In both instances USSD seems to have reacted rather quickly and somewhat stridently, making claims that I did not think were fully supported at the time. I do think that Russia does bear a disproportionate share of the blame for the current messes in the Ukraine. However, it seems rather early to be asserting direct Russian agency in the bringing down of the plane. If USG has such information, they might release some of it. And as my tour through various permutations above of possible levels of possible Russian involvement or agency in this matter, I think that any Russian culpability decreases with increase in rank and proximity to Moscow. And, as you may have noticed, I am consistently calling on this tragedy to be fully investigated to determine the actual facts, and am cautioning against rash action by any party. (Ukraine's impromptu offensive is not helping matters) Rather I have been calling for this tragedy to be used as a means to settle the dispute and to bring the killing to a rapid close.


why do you insist on Russia supplying the missile? That means to offer a complicated explanation, when there is a simpler, more plausible one that you yourself give a '85-95 percent confidence factor'.

Dragging Russia in only makes for a convoluted argument. Russia is not a necessary player in this. They are not needed for targeting, not needed for supplying the missile, not needed to supply the training, and yet ...

Weaving scenarios that involve them anyway, is maybe an entertaining pastime, but I fear it doesn't become less improbable even when sprinkled with IFs.

Seeing how you keep mentioning Russia, people could think they had something to do with it, even though you yourself give that idea only a 5-15 percent confidence factor. You may just mislead a careless reader into think that the two are linked.

"If it can be shown that this is what the Ukrainian military or government has done, then it is most serious. It could cause a fall of the government, a reduction of foreign sympathy and support, collapse of actions against the rebels ..."

That is obvious and not what I asked you. Would that for YOU undermine the case for US cooperation with Kiev?

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

February 2021

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
Blog powered by Typepad