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Russian missile maker traces site of missile launch against flight MH17 with 4 km accuracy

October 13, 2015, 10:26 UTC+3
An experiment conducted by Russia's leading missile manufacturer Almaz-Antey has confirmed that MH17 was hit by a missile from the village of Zaroshchenskoye controlled by Ukrainian troops
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Buk M1 air defense system (archive)

Buk M1 air defense system (archive)

©  ITAR-TASS/Vladimir Zinin

MOSCOW, October 13. /TASS/. Specialists of Russia’s arms manufacturer Almaz-Antey have identified the likely site from where a surface-to-air missile was launched at Malaysia’s flight MH17 last summer with a high degree of accuracy.

"The area of likely launch measures three-four kilometers by four kilometers," the concern’s CEO Yan Novikov told a news briefing on Tuesday.

According to the CEO, an experiment conducted by Russia's leading missile manufacturer Almaz-Antey has confirmed that MH17 was hit by a missile from the village of Zaroshchenskoye controlled by Ukrainian troops, the state corporation's CEO Yan Novikov said Tuesday.

"The results of the [second] exoeriment totally dismissed the results of the Dutch commission’s on the type and site of the launch," Novikov said. "Today we can state that if the Malaysian Boeing was downed by a Buk missile system then it was hit by a 9M38 missile from Zaroshchenskoye."

Mikhail Malyshevsky, an adviser to Almaz-Antey’s general designer, told reporters that a missile launched from the Snezhnoye settlement could not have hit the engine and left wing of Flight MH17, as the international investigation commission claims. According the official, that was shown by 3D modelling conducted by the arms manufacturer.

"We conducted a 3D modelling to graphically demonstrate which strike elements hit the airliner’s body. At least 22 fragments of the missile launched from Zaroshchensky should have hit the left engine. The missile launch from Snezhnoye was modelled second. In head-on encounter, not a single strike element of this missile could have hit the left wing and left engine," he said.

Manufacturer: Elements presented by commission not part of missile that hit MH17

The experiment also showed that Flight MH17 was hit by a missile of an even older modification than suggested earlier, without striking elements shaped as an I-beam presented by the international commission.

Almaz-Antey’s general director Yan Novikov said that the international commission presented "three elements shaped as I-beams that match the missile 9M38M1."

"On July 31, the first experiment with the striking part of 9M38M1 was carried out on aluminum shields. During the experiment, it became absolutely obvious that even if the Malaysian Boeing was hit by a missile from Buk-M1 system, then it was the 9M38 missile that does not have striking elements shaped as I-beams. Data derived from this experiment were available at the beginning of August. However, according to our information, it was not taken into account," Novikov said.

The 9M38 missile was withdrawn from Russian army service. 

"If it was Buk, it is clearly the 9M38 missile. The last missile of this type was manufactured in the Soviet Union in 1986. By the decision of the chief designer the service life of these missiles, taking into account all extensions, is set at 25 years. We have a protocol on this issue. After this period of time, their use was prohibited, and the missiles were withdrawn from service," Novikov said.

According to the advisor to Almaz-Antey’s general designer, striking elements of the 9M38M1 missile leave typical punctures shaped as a butterfly in the aircraft fuselage, and such punctures were not present on the crashed plane

"The Boeing would have had such punctures if it had been hit by 9M38M1 missile," he said.

The Russian state arms manufacturer Almaz-Antey has showed fragments of the fuselage of the Boeing-777 plane that crashed in east Ukraine in 2014 after being hit with a Buk-M1 missile.

Almaz-Antey held its own full-scale experiment on recreating the crash. A TASS correspondent reported from the press conference that fragments represent metal sheets with indentations from being hit by a missile. The arms manufacturer said earlier it would present the results of the experiment on October 13.

According to the corporation's CEO, Almaz-Antey spent 10 million rubles (roughly $160,000) on experiments to hold its own investigation of the Malaysian flight MH17 disaster.

"We combined our tasks in this experiment and modelled the situation mathematically… We gathered a large amount of information in our work, so we did not hesitate to spend," Novikov said.

In early June, Almaz-Antey presented the results of its own investigation of the MH17 air crash. The company’s experts arrived at the conclusion that the aircraft must have been brought down by the 9M38M1 anti-aircraft missile of the BUK-M1 missile system launched from the area south of the village of Zaroschenskoye. The company noted that Ukraine had such systems and missiles but did not place responsibility for the plane crash on the Ukrainian military or the people’s militias. Almaz-Antey did not rule out other versions.

MH17 crash

On 17 July 2014, a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 passenger airliner on flight MH17 from the Dutch city of Amsterdam to the Malaysian capital of Kuala Lumpur crashed in the Donetsk Region in eastern Ukraine, killing all on board. Most passengers - 193 people - were Dutch nationals. The suspected cause of the crash is that the plane was hit by a surface-to-air missile.

Today, the Netherlands will make public the final report of the Dutch Safety Board that sums up the result of the 15-month investigation of MH17 crash in east Ukraine in 2014. The investigation did not consider the issues of who is to responsible for the tragedy but rather dealt with technical details of the air crash. The Dutch prosecutor’s office conducts a separate criminal investigation tasked with establishing the perpetrators.

Among participants in the investigation were Australia, UK, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Russia, USA and Ukraine. The preliminary version of the documents was presented on June 1. The countries could propose amendments to the report in the following two months, but it remains unclear whether these amendments were taken into account.

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