Missile likely hit jet: Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 Missile

Published: October 14, 2015

Missile likely hit jet: Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 Missile, The Dutch Safety Board concluded Tuesday that downed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was hit by a Russian-made Buk missile fired from rebel-held eastern Ukraine in July 2014.

The missile struck near the cockpit, instantly killing the two pilots and another crewmember while breaking off the front of the plane, the board said in its final report of the incident that killed all 298 on board. Some passengers may have remained conscious for up to a minute and a half before the Boeing 777 crashed into the ground, but they probably were not fully aware of what was happening amid the oxygen-starved chaos, the report said.

Safety board chairman Tjibbe Joustra announced findings from the report – which does not say who was responsible for firing the missile – and showed a reconstruction of the front of the airliner.

The investigators said the missile exploded less than a yard from the cockpit, and the aircraft came down over eastern Ukraine, where a conflict was raging between Russian-backed separatists and government forces.

Ukraine should have closed its airspace to civil aviation, Joustra said. “None of the parties involved recognized the risk from the armed conflict on the ground,” he said.

Very confronting. We are looking at cockpit and area marked by high speed penetration #mh17pic.twitter.com/Ofj3WEpazH

— Lisa Millar (@LisaMillar) October 13, 2015
Western officials have long said the plane flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, was hit by a surface-to-air missile. Russia has denied involvement in the July 17, 2014, tragedy.

Ukraine says the missile was launched in Snizhne, an area controlled by separatists. The Dutch report identified an area of 320 square kilometers where the missile had been launched but did not state an exact site.

On Tuesday, the Russian state-controlled manufacturer of Buk missiles said its own investigation contradicts the Dutch report’s conclusions.

Claudio lost his husband Glenn – this is the first view of aviation report #MH17pic.twitter.com/Q5mwtXSnsd

— anna holligan (@annaholligan) October 13, 2015
The firm, Almaz-Antey, said it conducted two experiments – including one that detonated a Buk missile near the nose of an airplane similar to a Boeing 777 – that dispute the report’s findings. The experimental aircraft’s remains showed a much different damage pattern than seen on the remnants of MH17, the firm said in a statement, according to the Associated Press.

Speaking at a news conference before the Dutch report was released, the firm’s head Yan Novikov said: “We have proven with our experiments that the theory about the missile flying from Snizhne is false.” He said evidence shows that if the plane was hit by a Buk, it was fired from the village of Zaroshenske, which Russia says was under Ukrainian government control at the time.

At the White House in Washington, National Security Council spokesman Ned Price called the report an important milestone to hold those responsible accountable for shooting down the plane.

“The report also serves to remind us of this terrible tragedy and the impact it continues to have on those left behind,” Price said.

Robert Latiff, a retired Air Force major general who is now a professor at the University of Notre Dame, said if separatists launched the missile, they probably lacked training in the weapons system, which includes radar and communications technology to track a plane’s transponder identification code. Russian troops would have been too professional and disciplined to make that kind of error, Latiff said.

“The people who ‘pulled the trigger,’ so to speak should have, as a matter of training, ensured that the target was not a commercial aircraft by checking for this code first,” Latiff said. “I suspect this was not the case, and some nervous, anxious or trigger-happy soldier was at fault.”

The Dutch Safety Board investigated the incident because 193 of those on board were from the Netherlands. The plane’s voice and data recorders were recovered within days of the crash.

The cockpit voice recorder offered no clues that the crew was aware they were about to be shot down. Two bursts of sound were captured in the final 20 milliseconds of the recording, with each lasting only four one-hundreds of a second. “Crew communication gave no indication that there was anything abnormal with the flight,” the Dutch report said.

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