“Duff said one cannot be entirely sure the detected fighter jet was an SU-25 at all, as modern radar spoofing counter-measures – such as those designed by BAE Systems and employed by NATO – are able to mask any other aircraft, be it an SU-27 or F-15, as another plane.”
As the investigation into the MH17 tragedy continues in eastern Ukraine, the SU-25’s chief designer has told German media that the fighter jet could not possibly have taken down the passenger plane. RT spoke to former pilots about the jet’s capabilities.
Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, crashed down over rebel-held eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014. Everyone on board – 283 passengers and 15 crew members – perished in the tragedy.
A report on the official investigation published in September 2014 said the crash was a result of structural damage caused by a large number of high-energy objects that struck the Boeing from the outside. However, it did not conclude what the objects were, where they came from, or who was responsible.
Kiev and some Western states have placed blame on eastern Ukraine militias and Russia. The Russian Defense Ministry shared radar data pointing to other possibilities in July – including an attack by a Ukrainian Sukhoi-25 fighter jet, which was said to have been tracking the passenger plane.
While an official international investigation into the crash has been dragging on for nine months, the debate into the cause of the tragedy has been once again reignited by recent comments from the chief designer of the SU-25.
Kiev-born Soviet and Russian aircraft designer Vladimir Babak said on Monday that the SU-25 jet – which was spotted tracking the MH17 Boeing at the moment it crashed down – did not have the capability to shoot down a passenger plane. He said the fighter jet could have successfully attacked the Boeing at an altitude of 3,000-4,000 meters, but not at the plane’s altitude of 10,500 meters. He added that air-to-air missiles would have only damaged the Boeing – not completely destroyed it while still in the air.
“I believe all allegations that a SU-25 could be involved into this tragedy are a cover-up attempt,” Babak said in an interview to German channels NDR and WDR. “I cannot explain it otherwise. We cannot understand how an SU-25 could take down the Boeing.”
‘SU-25 capable of high altitude flights, can carry powerful missiles’
However, several former top officials and SU-25 pilots disagree with Babak.
Based on the analysis of the plane debris and the nature of the damage, there is a high probability the plane was stuck by an air-to-air missile and an aircraft gun, Lieutenant General Aleksandr Maslov, former deputy chief of the Russian Air Defense and Land Forces, told RT.
“The published photos [from the MH17 crash site] enable to assume that the Boeing was downed by a military jet. Besides that, the existing damage indicates that the airplane was shot with air-to-air missiles together with an aircraft gun with a 30mm caliber,” Maslov said.
Claims that the passenger plane was downed by a surface-to-air Buk missile “cannot be supported,” as the nature of the damage from the missiles is different, he added.
Commenting on the jet’s ability to maneuver at higher altitudes, the former commander of an aviation division, Major General Sergey Borysyuk, noted that the jet would have had the capability to “maneuver comfortably,” even at such a high altitude.
“I personally flew, and not once, at an altitude of 12,000 meters…,” he said. “My colleagues have risen to an altitude of 14,000 meters. The altitude of 10,500 was officially authorized during operations in Afghanistan. Therefore the plane, even at an altitude of 12,000 meters, has the capability to maneuver comfortably, its aerodynamic characteristics enable it to do so.”
Borysyuk explained that the R-60 missiles on the SU-25 have an infrared homing and a rod warhead. Citing the nature of the plane’s debris and the “precisely sliced fuselage,” he said that R-60 missiles were possibly used.
“The firing range of the missile is 7.5km. And in those conditions, the probability of hitting the target increases,” he added.
The former chief commander of Russia’s Air Force, Vladimir Mikhailov, also said he flew the SU-25, reaching an altitude of 12,000 meters and even 14,000 meters. He also stated that the plane “comfortably maneuvers” at such heights.
“If the plane was downed by Buk [missile defense system], it would have almost immediately fallen to pieces in the air and we could not have witnessed such large debris on the ground,” he said.
Along with Russia’s Ministry of Defense, he also questioned why the MH17 flight stayed within the flying corridor until it reached Donetsk, but then deviated from the route to the north.
In July 2014, Russia’s Ministry of Defense presented military monitoring data which showed Kiev military jets tracking MH17 shortly before the crash and posed a set of questions to Ukraine over the circumstances of the tragedy, which have still not been answered.
‘You can’t fire Buk missile in broad daylight with no witnesses’
Speculation about the combat capabilities of the SU-25 jet stem from the Russian definition of the aircraft’s service ceiling – which is not the same as its absolute ceiling, as defined by the US military, Veterans Today senior editor Gordon Duff told RT.
“The claimed service ceiling is based on the oxygen supply in the aircraft. Now, there is a claim that this plane [SU-25] will only work to 22,000 feet. At the end of World War II, a German ME-262 would fly at 40,000 feet, a P-51 Mustang propeller plane flew at 44,000 feet. The SU-25 was developed as an analogue of the A-10 Thunderbolt, an American attack plane. The planes have almost identical performance, except that the SU-25 is faster and more powerful. The A-10 Thunderbolt has a service ceiling of 45,000 feet. The US estimates the absolute ceiling, which is a different term,” Duff explained.
The known estimate for the absolute ceiling of the SU-25 is 52,000 feet (15.8km), he added.
Moreover, Duff said one cannot be entirely sure the detected fighter jet was an SU-25 at all, as modern radar spoofing counter-measures – such as those designed by BAE Systems and employed by NATO – are able to mask any other aircraft, be it an SU-27 or F-15, as another plane.
Duff said he also discussed the possibility of the MH17 flight having been shot by a ground-to-air missile with experts from the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration), the FBI, the Air Line Pilots Association, as well as air traffic and air operational officers – and they all agreed that no proof of anti-aircraft missile use has been provided to the public.
It is highly unlikely that the launch of such a missile would have gone unnoticed in the area, Duff stressed, adding that the trail left by the rocket in the air would have been witnessed and filmed by “thousands.”
“One of the things we settled on early on is that in the middle of the day, if this were a Buk missile, the contrail would have been seen for 50 miles [80km]. The contrail itself would have been photographed by thousands of people; it would have been on Instagram, on Twitter, it would have been all over YouTube – and no one saw it. You can’t fire a missile on a flat area in the middle of the day leaving a smoke trail into the air and having everyone not see it,” Duff said.
“There is no reliable information supporting that it was a Buk missile fired by anyone,” he added.
Veterans Today’s July 17 Article:
“On 9/11, the infamous “Harley guy,” a Fox News employee wearing a Harley Davidson t shirt was interviewed moments after the triple towers vaporized. He described in detail exactly what the findings, absurd as they seem today, would be to the public 9/11 report released many years later. In fact, he was the real author of that farcical document.
On MH 17 we get a new “Harley guy” every couple of weeks, with a veritable army of them hitting the streets today, straining our patience, all peddling the same equally farcical “BUK missile” talking points.”
Editor’s note: You have just seen 4 minutes of a 17 minute video. News Corp (Murdoch) claims the complete video asserts that MH 17 was shot down by a plane. Why this video, shot by crash site investigators making some effort to secure the scene, has been held for a year is inexcusable. Stories about how the scene was protected and what went on there are now proven utterly false. VT has the story right in August 2014. Read the initial VT story here followed by reports from Sputnik News and Russia Today. VT staffers are standing by waiting for the website to crash.
VT Exclusive: As the day progresses, a “toad and troll” media war has erupted along with massive denial of service attacks on Veterans Today. The BUK missile story that from the first ignored the fact that Kiev routed MH17 purposefully over a “no fly combat zone” is being peddled by not only the paid stooges of Israeli agent Jane Harmon’s Daily Beast but armies of misfits, pedophiles, chat room trolls and paid off military retirees.
We take this, the after the fact disinformation campaign, so stupidly orchestrated, and the wealth of evidence, only some of which is outlined below, that Israel had a clear hand in the downing of MH17 and quite probably MH 370 as well. They got “two birds with one stone” with MH 17, a blow against two enemies, Russia and Malaysia.
Everything made public about MH 17 has been a lie. New evidence supports two planes being shot down, MH 17 and the fighter that shot it down…shot down by what now appears to be a Russian fighter in Ukrainian air space, scrambled to defend MH 17. Two pilots of the SU25 bailed out before crash according to witness statements withheld for a year.
There is precedent for Russians defending Eastern Ukraine from air attacks. Russian pilots defended North Vietnam as well during the Vietnam War and American pilots flew missions over Israel, Syria and Egypt in the 1973 War and may well be flying unofficial missions on behalf of al Nusra or ISIS groups fighting inside Syria and Iraq as well.
Sputnik News Report including transcript of censored video
In Utter Disbelief
Meanwhile, the Australian news outlet News.com.au has published what it claims to be the transcript of the ”17-minute video shot by the rebels themselves on a camcorder as they captured what they initially believed to be a Ukrainian air force fighter jet they had just shot down”.
The website however has posted only a 4-minute video extract but published what it claims to be the transcript of the full version.
If true, the conversations made on camera prove that the alleged self-defense fighters arrived at the site of the Boeing crash searching for the Ukrainian Sukhoi fighter.
“They say the Sukhoi (Fighter) brought down the civilian plane and ours (Jim Dean: they could only be talking about a Russian plane) brought down the fighter,” the transcript quotes some commander as saying.”
“Background: The fighter jet brought down this one, and our people brought down the fighter.”
“Background: They decided to do it this way, to look like we have brought down the plane.”
The transcript also said that while the fighters were examining the site of the crash of the civilian plane, there was another crash site, presumably that of the fighter.
“The Sukhoi brought down the plane and we brought down the Sukhoi.
Is it far from here? Where did it fall?
Looks like … Where’s the smoke coming from?
Somewhere else is burning, the 49 village.
I mean … the two pilots landed with parachutes.”
The website however prefers not to notice the evidence of the existence of a second plane, which shot down the Boeing. It mostly concentrates on the people examining the remains of the Boeing and stubbornly insists that it was shot down with the surface-to-air missile.
The report was leaked via the private LiveJournal account of Albert Naryshkin (aka albert_lex) late on Tuesday and has already been widely discussed by social media communities in Russia.
The authors of the investigative report have calculated the possible detonation initiation point of the missile that hit the passenger aircraft and approximate number and weight of strike elements, which in turn designated the type and presumed manufacturer of the weapon.
Malaysian Airline Boeing 777-200 performing flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17, 2014, crashed on the territory of Ukraine near the village of Grabovo, killing all 283 passengers and 15 crewmembers aboard.
The aircraft disintegrated in the air and the debris of MH17 were scattered across an area of about 50 sq. km.
The external view of MH17 hull pieces indicates that “fragments of the pilots’ cockpit have suffered specific damages in the form of localized puncture holes and surface dents typical for hypervelocity impacts with compact and hard objects,” the report says, stressing that similar damage could be found on the inner side of the cockpit.
The report specifically points out that chips of the body coat around the holes in the fragment are typical of wave effects created by hypervelocity impacts.
Some damage, though larger and less clustered, could be found near the air-scoop of the left-wing engine of the aircraft.
The nature of the damage allows for the identification of the source as a high-explosive fragmentation warhead from a modern anti-aircraft weapon, claims the report.
Apart from the large puncture holes, the debris of the nose and the cockpit of the aircraft bear a large number of scattered micro-craters resulting from the impact of high-velocity dust and tiny debris, such as an unburnt blasting agent and elements of the ordnance that accompany a shock wave from a blast that occurred very close to the target. In the case of MH17, the pilots’ cockpit.
The report says that as a rule, the initial speed of the striking elements of modern anti-aircraft weapons vary between 1,500 and 2,500 meters per second.
Altogether, the experts considered photos of five fragments of the cockpit and left port of the flight MH17, on which they counted some 230 “battle-damage” holes and punctures.
All this considered, the experts claim that the exact zone of the blast impact could be established with a fair degree of accuracy.
The warhead of the missile exploded very close to the cockpit, to its left side at a distance of 0.8-1.6 meters from the cockpit windows, exactly opposite the sliding window of the aircraft commander.
The dimensions and character of the puncture holes left by the strike elements allegedly allow their size and form factor to be established, which in its turn makes it possible to identify the type of weapon used in a particular case.
The cross dimension of absolute majority, 86 percent, of the 186 hull holes studied by experts measure between 6 and 13mm, with explicit maximum of them having cross dimension of 8mm.
This fact brought the expert group to a conclusion about the size of the strike elements of the warhead. If the warhead had been armed with two types of strike elements, the majority of the holes would have been of two types, the reports notes.
The strike element has been established of being a rectangular block measured 8mm x 8mm x 6mm, with margin of error of 0.5 mm, a high probability it was made of steel and an estimated weight of 3 grams each. The total number of such elements should have varied between 2,000 and 4,000.
The bulk of the strike elements are estimated between 4.88 – 14.8 kilograms.
The report confutes the argument of Russia’s Almaz-Antey military concern that early claimed that “intricate shape”double-t steel fragments, similar to those used in warheads of surface-to-air Buk missile systems, have been extracted from the debris of MH17 flight.
Howwever, the double-t strike elements of a Buk missile weigh 8.1 grams, more than twice as much as a single damage fragment among those that pierced MH17’s hull. Thus, according to the report, the hypothesis about a Buk missile system being involved in the crash is “most probably incorrect.”
With 95 percent probability, the group of experts estimates the weight of the missile’s warhead (explosives plus strike elements) that shot down MH17 of being between 10 and 40kg.
This led the experts to determine the exact type of the weapon used against Malaysian Airlines flight MH17.
The report says that that Soviet- and Russian-made surface-to-air missile systems use more powerful warheads than the established maximum 40kg, as is the case with MH17.
Moreover, Soviet- and Russian-made air-to-air missiles which have a similar 10-40kg warhead capability use other types of strike elements within one warhead – obviously not the case with MH17.
A whole range of existing foreign air-to-air missiles have corresponding warhead characteristics, yet lack of physical elements of the missile used against MH17 prevented experts from establishing the exact type of the weapon used.
Still, the circumstances and conditions of the assault allowed experts to make certain assumptions.
The missile that attacked MH17 had a passive radar homing head, which explains why the missile exploded so close to the cockpit. Under the radar-transparent nosecone of a Boeing 777-200 there is a surveillance radar station operable during the flight, so most likely the missile homed on to this radar as the target.
Apart from a radar homing head, the missile could also be equipped with an advanced, matrix type, imaging IR seeker, which enables the missile to determine the size and the type of the target and choose for attack its most vital element. For a huge Boeing aircraft, that’s the cockpit.
A simulation of the missile attack has proved that missiles with that type of guidance choose to attack a big passenger plane from the front hemisphere.
There are four air-to-air missiles that fit the description established by the experts, namely: French Magis-2, Israeli Shafrir, American AIM-9 and Israeli Python – all short-range.
The first three have been struck off the list for various reasons, including type of warhead or guidance system specifications. The Python deserved a closer look.
The Python is equipped with a matrix-imaging IR seeker. It enables a relatively moderate power warhead to effectively engage big aircrafts. The warhead is armed with a set of ready strike elements. Even more importantly, some open military sources suggest that in early 2000s a number of Sukhoi Su-25 assault fighter jets we refurbished to use fourth and fifth generation Python missiles, which look very similar to the Su-25’s standard air-to-air R-60 missile.
The unofficial report leaked in LiveJournal has become yet another one among many other unofficial versions presented over the year that has passed since the catastrophe occurred on July 17, 2014.
The Dutch Safety Board that has been heading an international investigation into the cause of the crash is due to release its official report in October.
The four-minute clip posted by News Corp Australia is an extract from what is claimed to be a longer 17-minute video, which allegedly depicts the immediate aftermath of the MH17 Boeing crash. The clip shows rebel fighters who arrived at the scene, first looking to get things under control. Their commander is heard ordering them to clear the area of civilians and onlookers and search for the black boxes.
In the clip a man’s voice is heard, which is thought to be that of a rebel commander, who receives a number of phone calls apparently from other rebel fighters at different sites where the debris fell. The man is heard saying “What? There’s another plane?” and orders the men to “establish a perimeter and keep civilians away”.
The four-minute clip posted by the News.com.au is followed by a transcript from a longer 17-minute video, which has not been released. News Corp Australia told RT that they “stand by the transcript, it was taken from the full video, which investigators now have.”
The text cites a rebel commander as saying that “the Sukhoi [fighter jet] brought down the plane and we brought down the Sukhoi.”
Later on, the man is quoted as saying that “there’s two planes taken down,” while a voice in the background says, “the fighter jet brought down this one [MH17 Boeing], and our people brought down the fighter. They [the Ukrainians] decided to do it this way, to make it look like we have brought down the plane.”
According to the transcript, there were also between two and “five parachute jumpers” who landed at the nearby Grabove village. These included a pilot “roaming about Rassypnoe” [a nearby village] and a commander ordering his men go and get him immediately.
One of the rebels is also wondering who and why they [the Boeing] was given permission to fly over the warzone.
The four-minute clip shows rebels searching the debris for black boxes and finding one, as well as personal IDs of the passengers, which they then filmed on the camera.
Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop reacted upon the release of the video by saying that she could not verify its authenticity. “It is sickening to watch and, 12 months on from the downing of MH17, it is deeply concerning that this footage has emerged now,” she told the Nine Network.
Bishop also said “it is certainly consistent with all that we were told, the advice that we received two months ago, that flight MH17 had been shot down by a… missile,” she said.
Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17, which was heading from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, was downed in eastern Ukraine on July 17, 2014, killing all 298 people onboard.