MH17 Shootdown – The Investigation Continues
… by Michael Shrimpton
There has been a dramatic development in the past week. Captain Hausenko, a German pilot, has spotted something every other commentator, including myself, missed. The wreckage of the MH17 cockpit section has damage consistent with 30 mil cannon rounds. I respectfully agree with Captain Hausenko. Close examination of photographs of the wreckage is indeed consistent with armor-piercing 30 mil cannon rounds. Armor-piercing is suggested, as we have exit holes. With high-explosive rounds we would expect to detonation on impact, or inside the fuselage.
Could this damage have been inflicted by a Sukhoi Su-25?
It most certainly could. The Su-25 is kitted out with the impressive Russian-made GSh-30-2 cannon. This is a real doozy of a cannon, indeed some would say it’s the cannon you want, unless of course it happens to be aimed at you and some trigger-happy Ukrainian pilot is about to start shooting.
It’s a twin-barreled job, with a rate of fire of 3,000 rounds per minute. With a typical ammunition load of an Su-25 that equates to about 5 seconds of continuous fire. I doubt however that SU-25 pilots go in for more than short bursts of say 1-2 seconds. The damage done to MH17 seems to be consistent with such a burst.
It can fire depleted uranium rounds, with a muzzle velocity of around 2,880 feet per second. That’s not actually that high (the US Navy’s excellent World War II 5”/38 gun was only about 200 fps slower, e.g.), but it’s high enough. By the way it’s a 30 mil cannon, not a .30 caliber, as Ron Demarco suggested in response to last week’s column. Thirty cal normally refers to a light machine gun, like the Colt .30, which equipped a number of US fighters in WWII, such as the Curtiss P-40B (wing guns only – they packed the much more powerful 50 cal in the nose).
Captain Hausenko also makes the fair point that the forward fuselage of a transport aircraft has to be built more strongly, to allow for birdstrikes. Armor-piercing rounds therefore make sense, that is if you are lunatic enough to shoot down a civilian airliner in peacetime in the first place.
We know that Russian radar identified at least one Su-25 climbing towards MH17. We also know, as pointed out last week, that even an unmodified Frogfoot can reach FL330 (33,000 feet) for a limited period. First thoughts suggest that the planes may have come from the 456 Assault Regiment at Chortkiv, in Western Ukraine. The type has reasonable endurance, and distance to target is not a problem.
Were the Su-25s trying to shoot down MH17?
I suggest not. Analysis of the shootdown still points strongly towards a Chinese HQ-16 having been used, with a specially trained Chinese crew. The PLA are not given to moral qualms, but even if they were, nobody involved is going to kick up a fuss. The brave students in Tiananmen Square were the exception in communist China, rather than the rule, sadly.
The attack aircraft (the Su-25 is not a fighter) were not there to shoot the plane down, in my opinion. That would point too strongly towards the Ukraine, when the intent was to set up the pro-Russian rebels as patsies. It looks like Captain Leong tried to turn away from the danger area and lost his life as a consequence. That brings us to the question of what has happened to the pilots’ bodies.
Since cannon rounds would not fit with the German/EU/NATO/Administration line of a shootdown by rebels with a Buk SAM, we can be fairly sure that someone is going to mess with the autopsy results. We saw that in the UK, with the autopsy of Lt-Col Litvinenko. He died of peritonitis, but the original autopsy report was suppressed by GO2 and the Cabinet Office. Polonium poisoning is the only cause of death to which the media are allowed to refer.
The whitewash, sorry inquiry, will start out by assuming polonium poisoning, without looking at the medical evidence. I suspect, with respect, that it will be about as fair as Mr. Justice Bucknill’s savage attack on the Royal Navy’s great wartime Director of Naval Construction, Sir Stanley Vernon Goodall RCNC, where the learned judge sought to blame DNC for the loss of HMS Prince of Wales.
That particular inquiry, again with respect, was a hatchet job. Prince of Wales did not sink because of design defects in her protection scheme, which was excellent, although her torpedo protection was not as strong as test results demonstrated, and the King George V class did have a weakness in the outer prop shafts, betrayed to the Japanese by German assets in the Cabinet Office. That of course allowed the Japs to aim their torpedoes at the right spot. The weakness was probably built in the by the way, that is to say the Treasury wouldn’t pay to protect the shafts. Let’s just say that Sir Stanley Goodall played a rather more important role in the defeat of Germany than Mr. Justice Bucknill.
One plane or two?
‘Ordinary Serf’ and other commentators are making the point that MH17 is really MH370. No, it isn’t, with respect. MH370 isn’t missing. We know where it is – it’s on the floor of the South China Sea, right where the Chinese shot it down. Aside from any other consideration Malaysia Airlines are down two 777s. Where’s the other one, if it isn’t MH370?
There are echoes here of the Titanic/Olympic switch theory, which I dismiss in Spyhunter. It was an interesting theory, fueled by newspapers dubbing pictures of the Olympic as the Titanic. The liner which sailed on 10th April 1912 to her death at the hands of German Naval Intelligence was definitely RMS Titanic. It’s actually quite easy to tell the two great ships apart – when you know what the differences are, that is.
The risk of war
The German/Ukrainian strategy is clearly to set Germany’s wartime enemies at each other’s throats. This is a continuation of the DVD’s Cold War strategy, when DVD agents acting as hardliners tried to ramp up tensions between the Soviet Union and the West. As I pointed out on that nice lady Lorien Fenton’s radio show, at 2 am this morning (this is being written on the 5th), the strategy of shooting down MH17 and blaming it on the Russians has echoes of KAL007. The plan there was to start a war.
Good people in Russia and the West have to make sure that doesn’t happen, just as President Reagan and good people in Moscow de-escalated the 007 crisis (it’s difficult to believe that flight number was chosen at random!). It’s a bit like that scene in The Sum of All Fears, where Jack Ryan and the nice Russian get together at the end of the movie.
Say it out loud. That nice man President Putin and the Russian rebels, who are fighting for a just cause against a German puppet regime, had nothing whatsoever to do with the shooting down of MH17. Berlin, London and Washington’s claims to the contrary are about as credible as Koba the bonobo’s claim in Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (well-made and hugely enjoyable by the way!) that it was we humans who shot Caesar.
Operation Protective Edge
Now that a hudna is in place, this may be an appropriate moment to review Israel’s recent counter-terrorist operation in Gaza. Of course I do so from a pro-Israeli perspective – I am a great friend of Israel and love the Israelis to bits. I am well aware, in saying that, that some readers of this column are not so fond of Israel. Not all my distinguished fellow-columnists on VT are in Jerusalem’s camp either, but that’s OK. Part of my role on VT is to bring balance, as I explained to Mossad when they had a little grumble and wanted to know why I was writing for VT! If you want balance, send for Shrimpton.
The operation has been a qualified, short-term success. It’s not clear how many tunnels the IDF have managed to shut down, but it’s a fair number. I am hearing that at least one had rails in it, which begs the question of what sort of munitions Hamas and their DVD backers were trying to smuggle into Israel.
Hamas were clearly taken aback by the reduced impact this time round of their appeal to sensibilities in Israel’s fellow democracies, to the point where they even had to knock off a few Palestinian children of their own, in order to try and make patsies of the Israelis. Part of the explanation lies in greater understanding of Hamas’s role in setting up the Sudaliya Beach murders, exposed for the first time in Spyhunter.
Not everybody in INTELCOM is buying pathetic piccies of dead children clustered around craters allegedly made by Israeli munitions, with not a shard of Israeli-sourced shrapnel in sight. Hamas are ruthless – terrorists usually are – and are perfectly capable of murdering a few Arabs in order to blame it on Jews.
Readers of Spyhunter will not have been surprised at the IDF’s no doubt carefully aimed attacks on UN installations. The UN are not neutral in the Global War on Terror and they’re certainly not on our side. They have been helping Hamas in Gaza and made themselves a legitimate target in the process. Tough.
I respectfully congratulate IDF on the care and precision with which they have carried out their operation. Given the Hamas tactic of hiding amongst the civilian population collateral casualties, whilst regrettable, were unavoidable. UN figures of deaths of ‘children’ probably include terrorists aged 15 – 18 and are unreliable.
My estimate is around 66% collaterals, which is about as low a number as you can hope for. It’s sad, but, hey, Israel didn’t start the war. You can’t start a war then complain when people get hurt. If you want peace, don’t attack Israel, or any other democracy for that matter.
IDF casualties may have come as a shock to a section of Israeli public opinion but are tiny, compared to what might have been, if the munition I think has been neutralized has in fact been neutralized. For an urban counter-terrorist operation of this difficulty and complexity, the Good Guy casualties are actually less than what we would expect. Israeli forces have been impressively disciplined, skillfully commanded and well led.
Movie Review of the Week – Hindenburg (2011), dir. Phillipp Kadelbach
Not the great movie starring George C. Scott, this is the TV movie put out in 2011. The most well-known star is Stacy Keach. It’s actually quite well put together, way above usual TV movie standards. The special effects are good and the acting is not that bad. Where it lets itself down is in the plot. Nobody dropped out of the great German airship as she approached New York and the IED which probably did bring her down was not placed on the outside of her hull. Some of what takes place in the movie would have been visible from the ground had it happened in real life.
This is the problem with working a fictional story-line into an historical event. Usually it’s better just to stick with the facts. The real story of the Hindenburg is dramatic enough. Her tragic loss seems to have been down to a vicious internal power play by Canaris and the Abwehr, past masters at bringing down aircraft (although they messed up at Smolensk!).
Next week I am going to start reviewing the Bond movies, starting with one of my favorites, Dr. No. It’s not my all-time favorite however!
August 5th 2014
Michael Shrimpton is a barrister, called to the Bar in London 1983. He is a specialist in National Security and Constitutional Law, Strategic Intelligence and Counterterrorism.
Michael was formerly an Adjunct Professor of Intelligence Studies in what was then the Department of National Security, Intelligence and Space Studies at the American Military University.
Michael’s ground-breaking, 700 page intelligence text “Spyhunter: The Secret History of German Intelligence” was published in England by June Press on April 14th 2014.