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Buk missile suspected in Malaysia plane disaster



LONDON (AP) -- The Malaysia Airlines jet was flying far above the range of conventional portable anti-aircraft launchers when it was destroyed Thursday - but it was well within the altitude range of the powerful Buk missile-launcher.

That Russian-made system was blamed by an adviser to Ukraine's interior minister for the catastrophe, and defense experts said one could have fallen into the hands of separatist pro-Russia rebels fighting Ukrainian government forces.

A launcher similar to the Buk system was seen earlier in the day by Associated Press journalists in a rebel-held section of eastern Ukraine - lending credence to concerns that the rebels have more powerful weaponry than had been believed.

Defense experts believe Ukrainian government forces may have abandoned Buk systems when retreating from the area, giving the rebels the hardware they sought, or they could have been provided by the Russian government, although analysts say they have seen no proof of such a transfer.

Larry Johnson, a former CIA official with counterterrorism experience, said that if the rebels have a Buk system it is entirely possible that they could have mistaken the civilian airliner for a military transport aircraft before they fired a missile.

"The Buk uses a radar acquisition system for targeting," he said. "These aren't highly trained FAA air traffic controllers. You're tracking something on radar, you see a dot, you get confused. I don't think it was deliberate. I think it was mistaken identity."

He said the Buk is a sophisticated, difficult to operate system used by both the Russian and Ukrainian government military.

Charles Heyman, a retired British military officer who edits the "Armed Forces of the EU" book, said Ukraine obtained the weapons systems from Russia when it became independent in 1991 after the breakup of the Soviet Union. He said the weapons are best deployed near a border being defended, so Ukraine government forces had placed them in areas near the Russian border now controlled by rebels.

"It's possible the rebels took over one or two," he said, referring to both the SA-11 and SA-17 Buk systems.

He also said the Buk's radar doesn't give its operator the same kind of information that air traffic radars provide, which could have led to rebels mistakenly targeting a civilian plane.

"The sophisticated air traffic radars that the Kiev government have got and that the Russian government have got would pick up these civilian aircraft squawking all the time saying `I'm a civilian,'" he said. "But something like a Buk missile launcher with its own battlefield radar would probably only pick up an aircraft and not pick up the fact it was a civilian aircraft."

Justin Bronk, with the Royal United Services Institute, believes that if a Buk SA-11 system was used, he is "almost certain" it was supplied by Russia. The SA-11 was introduced in the late 1970s during the Soviet era.

"My personal hunch is that given the military setbacks that the separatists have suffered of late, and the Ukrainian military's increasingly confident use of airpower, Russian authorities decided to send a few SA-11 systems across into the Donetsk area," he said.

"However, I also highly suspect that the separatists did not intend to shoot down an airliner, but probably thought they were targeting a Ukrainian transport at high altitude, he said.

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jdm61cc July 17 2014 at 6:12 PM

Sorry, kids, but the Buk has a system that allows the operators to tell what kind of aircraft they are looking at base on radar return even if it does not have IFF or a transponder squawking.

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4 replies
stengernc July 17 2014 at 6:07 PM

Humanity is getting to be a species that can't help but destroy itself.

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chuck July 18 2014 at 1:27 PM

thank you oboma for the missile

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don July 17 2014 at 7:01 PM

The U.N Security Council needs to met and shut Russia's borders down for every thing

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pnut166 July 18 2014 at 12:17 PM

So, are you saying that....Russia passed the Buk ?

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1 reply
tom pnut166 July 18 2014 at 1:27 PM

No I am stating the fact is the information we see here is tainted. The truth is far from what is seen and heard. The media presented and diplomatic openly discussed issues are smoke and mirrors to hide the agenda. They who I am speaking of know who they are and they can change things. But they do not because of the hidden agendas that the world populous will never know until its all over. Damn shame! The world is much smaller and far more connected then any of us will ever know. God, Ala, Buda or any other moral teachings are all representing and attempting to send out the same message. Its been twisted in to nonsense by lunatics and our world leaders are to week to make the corrections required to live in harmony.

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jimmyh51 July 18 2014 at 9:28 AM

Mistake? you 're dealing with people who shot down the Korean airliner, even after their pilot made a visual identification. These are the same peole who murdered millions of their own citizens since communism took over. They also murdered countless others in countries that they took over. Whats a couple hundred more to the Russians.

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Squigmund Z. Hütter July 18 2014 at 5:44 AM

And the aliens have craft that carry light ray "guns" that can bring the power of 10-Suns to the very surface of the Earth.....someone on this Earth's moneyed and gold- barred Earth's elite cabal has some juevos.....

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liondog96 July 18 2014 at 8:28 AM

Buk missile, this missile, that missile...., Now why would this tragedy happen? They were only flying in a war zone. Did you know that if you sleep on train tracks the train can't go around you? Maybe if you sleep OVER the tracks, high enough you will be okay. Just plant some really strong supports incase the train does not go around them.

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tom July 18 2014 at 11:19 AM

The good people of the world must understand this current state of our world needs to be corrected. While we attempt to use diplomacy and discuss possible solutions that everyone agrees to a social infection is going out of control because its working in the minds of few. The order of magnitude that has manifested has been enabled by discussing things that are not related. We as "intelligent" life form as humans can not allow mass killings to rule. We have the intelligence and the knowledge do not be fooled. Find them and remove them.

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Squigmund Z. Hütter July 18 2014 at 5:40 AM

dematerialize*

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