Sunday, March 1, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Without radar, missile may not have identified jet

Ukraine Plane Missile

In this Friday, May 9, 2014, file photo, a Russian SA-11 launcher maneuvers along Red Square during the Victory Day Parade, which commemorates the 1945 defeat of Nazi Germany in Moscow, Russia. If Ukrainian rebels shot down the Malaysian jetliner, killing 298 people, it may have been because they didn’t have the right systems in place to distinguish between military and civilian aircraft, experts said Saturday, July 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin, File)

By
From page A1 | July 20, 2014 |

LONDON — If Ukrainian rebels shot down the Malaysian jetliner, killing 298 people, it may have been because they didn’t have the right systems in place to distinguish between military and civilian aircraft, experts said Saturday.

American officials said Friday that they believe the Boeing 777 was brought down by an SA-11 missile fired from an area of eastern Ukraine controlled by pro-Russian separatists. U.N. Ambassador Samantha Power said the Russians might have provided technical help to the rebels to operate the systems.

But to function correctly, an SA-11 launcher, also known as a Buk, is supposed to be connected to a central radar command – as opposed to acting alone – to be certain of exactly what kind of aircraft it is shooting at.

From the information that has come to light so far, the rebels don’t appear to have such systems, said Pavel Felgenhauer, a respected defense columnist for Novaya Gazeta, a Moscow-based newspaper known for its critical coverage of Russian affairs.

“They could easily make a tragic mistake and shoot down a passenger plane when indeed they wanted to shoot down a Ukrainian transport plane,” he said.

On Friday, Russia’s state-owned RIA Novosti news agency also quoted Konstantin Sivkov, director of the Academy of Geopolitical Problems, as saying Buk missiles “should be provided with external systems of target identification, that is, radio-location systems. It’s an entire system. And the insurgents certainly don’t have radio-location.”

Without a backup, a missile can be fired by operators who are not totally sure of what they are aiming at.

“Just seeing a blip on a radar screen was in no away sufficient to make a targeting decision,” said Keir Giles, associate fellow for international security and Russia and Eurasia programs at the Royal Institute of International Affairs. “You need an additional radar system to which these weapons systems can be connected for additional information.”

Social media postings from the rebels in the immediate aftermath of Thursday’s Malaysia Airlines disaster also suggested they had assumed civilian aircraft were avoiding the area and that anything in the air was hostile.

If a missile was fired without attempting to identify the aircraft, the destruction of Malaysia Flight 17 would be an act of criminal negligence, said retired U.S. Air Force Maj. Gen. Robert Latiff. He said commercial airliners operate on known communications frequencies and emit signals that identify them and give their altitude and speed.

“It doesn’t sound like the separatists were using any of this (information), or tried for that matter,” said Latiff, who oversaw advanced weapons research and development for the Air Force and now teaches at the University of Notre Dame.

“My guess is the system’s radar saw a return from a big ‘cargo’ plane flying at 30,000 feet or so and either automatically fired, or some aggressive, itchy operator fired, not wanting to miss an opportunity. It doesn’t seem they chose to seek any additional data before pulling the trigger,” Latiff said.

A NATO military officer, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to make public statements, said a Buk launcher, which is a self-propelled tracked vehicle resembling a tank, is ordinarily under the orders of a separate command post vehicle.

“In a totally textbook way of setting up, the command post vehicle assigns targets and designates the firing units – launcher 1 or launcher 2,” the NATO officer said.

Once targeted by such a potent weapon, the Boeing wide-body twinjet would have had little chance. Edward Hunt, a senior consultant for IHS Jane’s, which provides news and analysis on defense and geopolitical issues, said a commercial plane is not a difficult target for someone who knows how to operate a surface-to-air missile system.

“Civilian aircraft fly in a straight line,” Hunt said. “A civilian aircraft doesn’t try to take evasive action. It probably didn’t even know it was targeted.”

In her remarks to the U.N. Security Council, Power said that a journalist had reported seeing an SA-11 system early Thursday in separatist-controlled territory near Snizhne, “and separatists were spotted hours before the incident with an SA-11 SAM system close to the site where the plane came down.”

Power didn’t identify the reporter. But on Thursday, AP journalists saw a rocket launcher near Snizhne.

Rebels also bragged in June 29 report carried by Russia’s Itar-Tass news agency that they had gotten hold of some Buk missile systems from Ukrainian stocks, though they did not say how many or describe their condition.

A few weeks later, rebels shot down a Ukrainian Antonov 26, a military transport plane that can fly at altitudes of up to 24,750 feet.

If Thursday’s disaster was due to mistaken identity, it would not be the first.

Soviet air defenses in 1983 accidentally shot down Korean Airlines Flight 007, killing 269. In 1988, the USS Vincennes, a guided missile cruiser, brought down Iran Air Flight 655, with 290 people aboard, after mistaking it for an attacking warplane.

In October 2001, Siberian Airlines Flight 1812, traveling from Tel Aviv, Israel, to Novosibirsk, Russia, plunged into the Black Sea, killing all 78 aboard. The Ukrainian military at first denied responsibility, but later admitted its military mistakenly shot down the plane during a training exercise.

 

The Associated Press

The Associated Press

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Peace and patience: Quilters gear up for show

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: C1 | Gallery

 
School bands compete in Pageantry on Parade

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A1, 3 Comments | Gallery

 
Conservancy plans next Quail Ridge Reserve walk

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

 
Police seek suspect in armed robbery

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3, 3 Comments

 
4-H Presentation Day brings fun, education to Fairfield

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
The agony of the codling moth, ecstasy of worm-free apples

By Christine Macgenn | From Page: C4

 
What you eat can affect your medications

By Marilyn Ranson | From Page: C4

 
Appointments on tap for Board of Supervisors meet

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

Tri-City NAACP honors community members at gala event

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
CAASC 18th Annual Chinese New Year and Scholarship Celebration

By Steve Reczkowski | From Page: A5 | Gallery

 
Rollover in Suisun City

By Aaron Rosenblatt | From Page: A5, 1 Comment | Gallery

State schedules ramp closure at freeway project site

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A5

 
NY, SF town house prices through the roof

By Bud Stevenson | From Page: B7

 
Fairfield police log: Feb. 27, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

 
Suisun City police log: Feb. 27, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

Airmen with local ties finish basic training

By Nick DeCicco | From Page: B10

 
Force draws many from South, middle class

By Tom Philpott | From Page: B10

.

US / World

Christie to Calif. Republicans: No rush to pick 2016 nominee

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
US missionary abducted in Nigeria is courageous, friends say

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

Dress that ‘greatly resembles’ stolen Nyong’o gown found

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Weekend storm drops snow, rain, hail in California

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Churches, synagogues, mosques bear tough New England winter

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Hyundai recalls 263,000 cars due to power-steering problem

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Blind dog rescued after being lost for 2 weeks in the cold

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Details about proposed national monuments in California

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
National monument supporters in California get antsy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

Attacks kill 37 people in and north of Iraq’s capital

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
US drone strike in Yemen kills 3 suspected al-Qaida fighters

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

Greece will not seek another bailout, prime minister says

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
Nemtsov a possible ‘sacrificial victim,’ investigators say

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

.

Opinion

Editorial Cartoon: March 1, 2015

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sound off for March 1, 2015

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

 
New school funding plan remains on bumpy path

By Dan Walters | From Page: A8

Even Gruber deserves a break sometimes

By Megan Mcardle | From Page: A8, 2 Comments

 
I might just vote for a Democrat next time around

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8, 10 Comments

Aging Fairfield housing agency faltering

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A8

 
.

Living

Today in History: March 1, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: March 1, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

With numbers falling, Houston-area nuns’ future uncertain

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3

 
Kidney Walk participation helped give me a positive outlook on life

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: C4

Horoscopes: March 1, 2015

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: C4

 
.

Entertainment

Take a look – Dr. Seuss has a new book

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

 
Publisher launches line of Warhol e-books

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

Q&A: Opera star Deborah Voigt writes of turbulent life

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2Comments are off for this post

 
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST-SELLERS

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2

Review: ‘The Girl on the Train’ has realistic plot

By The Associated Press | From Page: C2Comments are off for this post

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

.

Sports

Local Report: Vaca’s Aquino wins Masters wrestling title

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1

 
Phegley hopes his style will catch on in Oakland

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

A year after meeting Tiger, Indian golfer on the rise

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Jeff Gordon takes a final spin at track that meant so much

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Vikings girls looking for first section title

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Safarova beats Azarenka to win the Qatar Open

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Environmental activists disrupt meeting by Olympic officials

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Hamilton hones Mercedes with fastest time at F1 testing

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Thunder’s Russell Westbrook has surgery on cheekbone

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Anthony Mason, rugged forward of 1990s Knicks, dies at 48

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Warriors center Festus Ezeli suspended for a game

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Reichelt leads Austrian World Cup downhill sweep

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Players’ union head: future spring games in Cuba possible

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Harrington takes 36-hole lead, then more rain in Florida

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Defending champ Federer beats Djokovic to retain Dubai title

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Harvick wins Xfinity race at Atlanta for 3rd year in a row

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Stolen No. 44 NASCAR race car found in suburban Atlanta

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
.

Business

For many in US, cash saved at gas pump is staying in pockets

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Fruits and vegetables get a star-studded marketing push

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

Historic snows causing headaches for real estate industry

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Nevada casinos keep $953.7 million in winnings in January

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Review: Freedom! These smartwatches leave the phone behind

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
Greek prime minister rules out third bailout

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

Boy, 13, builds Braille printer with Legos, starts company

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9Comments are off for this post

 
Recalls this week: hand trucks, ceiling fans

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

AP Exclusive: Fuel-hauling trains could derail at 10 a year

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12 | Gallery

 
.

Obituaries

Thomas Browning

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
Leah E. Hoffman

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

John W. Van Wart

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Virgil Albert Hanson

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

.

Comics