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Jul 18, 2014

MH17: why a commercial jet was flying over a war zone

The Russian separatists who shot down MH17 allegedly thought it was a military target -- though it was easily distinguishable as a commercial plane.

The truth about the destruction of MH17 has come out far faster than the baffling and totally unrelated mystery of the disappearance of MH370 on March 8. But a crucial question remains: what was the commercial jet doing flying over a war zone in the first place?

The jet and its 298 souls were targeted, tracked and destroyed by a modern warfare surface-to-air missile (SAM) launched by Russian separatists controlling the part of the eastern Ukraine, where it crashed to earth.

If as intelligence sources have unambiguously suggested this SAM was a Russian-made BUK, it requires a very deliberate drill by a launch squad that chose the target, locked onto it, and pressed the fire button the moment the control system had computed the intercept trajectory and loaded it into the already primed missile.

If the now widely circulated recording of conversations by separatists involved in the launch are the real thing, the jet was shot down in the belief that it was a military target.

As one voice is heard saying, after the bodies of adults and children are found after the kill, “they must have been carrying spies ….. What are they doing flying here? …. This is a fucking war.”

But some airlines had been routinely flying over Ukrainian airspace since the war started.

Visibility is shown in the newscasts as being more than adequate for a normal sighted adult to have recognized MH17 for what it was — a commercial flight. At 33,000 feet the shape and even livery of a large airliner is quite obvious, and the flight was quite obviously not military in its profile or other characteristics.

But with the attitude conveyed by the people in the alleged recording of the conversations after the missile hit, it is only by chance that the SAM-launching platoon didn’t bring down an even larger A380.

The destruction of MH17 raises exceptionally awkward questions for civil aviation authorities and air traffic control systems in general. Whatever logic was employed in deciding that it was safe to fly over a war zone at more than 32,000 feet, it was woefully ignorant of the capabilities of modern SAM systems, which in their heavier more capable forms are intended to destroy targets that may be supersonic and flying at much higher altitudes.

It all smacks of decision-making that favoured fuel-saving corridors over routes that avoided the risks of conflicts in which contemporary weapons technology is being used.

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45 comments

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45 thoughts on “MH17: why a commercial jet was flying over a war zone

  1. j.oneill

    In my previous post I raised the point that the Russians should be asked for their intelligence data. On Monday (yesterday) the Russians did precisely that. General Kartopolov told a media conference, complete with maps, photos, satellite images etc, that a Ukrainian SU-25 fighter was flying at the same altitude only 3-5km from MH17. General K also said showed satellite images of a Ukrainian BUK missile unit in the Donetsk region on the same day as MH17 flew overhead.

    The Russian detection systems also showed that an American satellite was overhead at the precise time that MH17 was hit by a missile. He said that the Americans should release their satellite images as Russia had done.

    The Russian data also show that MH17 was diverted by Kiev air traffic control from its scheduled route to take it over the Donetsk region, and at 2000 feet lower altitude than in its flight plan.

    The full video of General Kartopolov’s media interview can be easily seen on the web with a complete English translation.

    To the best of my knowledge no Australian media outlet, broadcast or print, has disclosed the fact of the Russian defence ministry’s release of hard data. And neither have the Americans released the data they must have. We might draw some negative inferences from that silence, and the continued propaganda barrage from Abbott et al when one could reasonably assume that the Australian defence intelligence agencies have told him what I have just set out above.

  2. Limited News

    Well said j.oneill. The arrogance and condescension of the Western media is astounding: “We know who did it, we’re not going to fall for Russia’s excuses”. Pathetic, the lot of them. This is how wars start. Oh no, we can’t be wrong, we’re so much more sophisticated these days than those naive Australian diggers volunteering in WWI.

  3. AR

    I fear that we will grow old & grey indeed before the US releases anything that detracts from the current line. Not that I would believe the Russians to have done the full Monty but, if the NSA routinely pervs on rooftop sunbathers via NORAID, the least they could do would be to bolster their Cold War meme & Axiom of Eevilness (it’s like ‘troothiness but more banal)case with crisp & clear imagery, telemetry and dispel all doubts.
    Perhaps that would suit neither side.

  4. Ian

    Thanks j.oneill for the general Kartopolov reference.

    As an aside I would say that if Western leaders and media were less aggressively reporting anti-Russian rhetoric and opinions and instead applied a more subtle approach to their propaganda they may have sucked more people into believing in the Russian culpability.

    The US and its vassals have lost the plot IMO.

  5. Ian

    Mr/Ms Moderator why is my entirely civil comment awaiting moderation? Is it being censored?

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