(Updated) Surface-to-Air Missile Brought Down Malaysia Airlines Flight over Ukraine: WSJ

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Update II:

Secretary of State John Kerry has released the following statement on the crash of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 in Eastern Ukraine:

We are horrified by the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17. There are no words adequate to express our condolences to the families of the nearly 300 victims. We offer our sympathies and support to the Governments of Malaysia and the Netherlands at this difficult time, as well as to all those whose citizens may have been on board. We are reviewing whether any American citizens were aboard the flight. The United States Government remains prepared to assist with a credible, international investigation any way we can, and we will continue to be in touch with all relevant partners as we seek the facts of what happened today.

Update II:

Fox News reports:

plane flight

The missile was believed to have been fired from a Russian Buk launcher, and the Malaysia Airlines plane appeared to be at least the third aircraft downed in the area since Monday, when a Ukrainian An-26 cargo plane was shot down. Late Wednesday, a Ukrainian Su-25 fighter jet crashed, though it could not be confirmed if it was shot down.
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A separatist group tweeted a boast at about the same time the plane went down claiming to have downed a transport plane, but the tweet was quickly deleted. The self-titled “Self-defence forces of the Donetsk People’s Republic” boasted in a June 29 press release of having taken control of Buk missile defense systems. The Buk, or SA-11 missile launchers, have a range of up to 72,000 feet.

Original Post:

CNBC Reports: “US intelligence confirms surface-to-air missile fired at Malaysian plane, divided over origin: WSJ”

A Malaysia Airlines passenger plane carrying 295 people was shot down over eastern Ukraine on Thursday, Ukrainian officials said, and both the government and the pro-Russia separatists fighting in the region denied any responsibility for downing the aircraft.
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Malaysia Airlines said Ukrainian aviation authorities told the company they had lost contact with Flight MH17, a Boeing 777 from Amsterdam carrying 295 people, about 30 kilometers (20 miles) from Tamak waypoint, which is 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the Russia-Ukraine border.
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U.S. intelligence officials confirmed that a surface-to-air missile was fired at the Malaysian plane but were divided over origin, the Wall Street Journal reported.

Read more here.

Lead image: www.shuterstock.com

ed note: Placed this map pix I circled [above] so readers can see how plane appeared to be flying over tip of south border of Ukraine from Amsterdam. dr.e

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Author: DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

  • ShannonLeee

    We can only pray for those lost and their families.

    It has been on tv here for about 4 hours.
    Let’s hope this doesn’t escalate into something uglier.

  • DR. CLARISSA PINKOLA ESTÉS, Managing Editor of TMV, and Columnist

    CNN is showing the burning debris from the plane on the ground. Completely sad. Completely. We remember too the disappearance of the MH plane from Kuahla Lumpur to Bejing just a few months ago.

    295 innocents dead now on Maylasia airlines crashed for no reason of goodness whatsoever. Putin blaming Ukraine for having ‘armed terrorists.’ Ukraine saying Russian backed militia who overwhelmed an armory several weeks ago and stole air-ground missile. Ukraine says the russian backed militia, shot down plane.

    Right now, seems like little being done to secure the site. Many reasons for doing so as quickly as possible, that I wont go into. Many of us are thinking of the families of those lost, the flight was from Amsterdam. We are waiting to hear the list of the dead. And praying for the families and loved ones who are right now in such grief and disbelief. May they be comforted and helped as much as possible.

  • slamfu

    Ok, the horror of this tragedy aside, did anyone here know that they let commercial airlines fly over warzones? I just assumed the would reroute them around. Who the hell would be stupid enough to let a passenger plane fly though such an area? This is really just shocking.

  • JSpencer

    Good question slam. What’s up with that?

  • The_Ohioan

    A Malaysian airliner which crashed in Ukraine was flying at 33,000 feet, some 1,000 feet above a closed section of airspace, an agency responsible for co-ordinating European airspace said on Thursday.
    ……
    “According to our information, the aircraft was flying at Flight Level 330 (approximately 10,000 metres/33,000 feet) when it disappeared from the radar,” Brussels-based Eurocontrol said.
    ….
    “This route had been closed by the Ukrainian authorities from ground to flight level 320 (approximately 32,000 feet) but was open at the level at which the aircraft was flying.”
    ….
    Since the crash, all airspace in eastern Ukraine has been closed up to an unlimited height, the statement said.

    http://www.financialexpress.com/news/eurocontrol-says-jet-was-1000-feet-above-closed-airspace/1271056

    Apparently, prior to today, this was the most efficient route from Europe to SE Asia and all airlines used it. Since two other Ukrainian planes had been shot down earlier this week, someone should have been responsible for changing the route before this happened.

  • cjjack

    …did anyone here know that they let commercial airlines fly over warzones?

    If I’m not mistaken, six miles up is far beyond the range of the sort of surface to air missiles you’d find among your average rebel fighters. This wasn’t some yahoo with a shoulder fired weapon like a Stinger. No, this was according to all accounts a “Buk” missile. Part of a pretty sophisticated Russian air defense system designed to hit targets as far up as 70k feet.

    Not the sort of thing you stumble across when raiding a weapons depot.

    Instead of asking why a commercial aircraft would be flying over such an area, we should be asking our “friends” in Moscow why they are equipping separatists with strategic air defense systems that can knock down commercial aircraft.

  • The_Ohioan

    So they can knock down Ukrainian Air Force fighter jets and transport planes. Which apparently they at first thought they had done.

    Moscow is protecting their assets in the Crimea and being pushed by nationalists to annex eastern Ukraine; but they should have made sure there were competent people using these weapons, if they are going to furnish them. There is a little war going on and the airline companies ought to act accordingly.

    Aviation authorities in several countries, including the FAA in the United States, had issued warnings not to fly over parts of Ukraine prior to Thursday’s crash, but many carriers, including cash-strapped Malaysia Airlines, had continued to use the route because “it is a shorter route, which means less fuel and therefore less money,” said aviation expert Norman Shanks.

    http://www.winnipegfreepress.com/world/official-malaysian-passenger-plane-carrying-295-people-shot-down-over-ukraine-267511511.html

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_airliner_shootdown_incidents

    Putin had better hope it was Russian separatists in the Ukraine rather than the Russian Army in Russia that did the deed.

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    If I’m not mistaken, six miles up is far beyond the range of the sort of surface to air missiles you’d find among your average rebel fighters. This wasn’t some yahoo with a shoulder fired weapon like a Stinger. No, this was according to all accounts a “Buk” missile. Part of a pretty sophisticated Russian air defense system designed to hit targets as far up as 70k feet.

    cjjack is right.

    The Buk, which has been upgraded from the SA-11(“Gadfly” ) to the SA-17 (“Grizzly “) or Buk-2 can reach an altitude of 25,000 meters (about 78,000 feet) in just over 60 seconds (30,000 feet in about 40 seconds).

    Intended to “defeat tactical and strategic aircraft, cruise missiles, helicopters and other aerodynamics targets throughout the entire range of their combat employment in severe ECM environment, as well as Lance-type tactical ballistic missile, HARM-type antiradar missiles and other airborne and ground-based high precision weapons and to engage waterborne and radio-contrast ground targets,” the BUK is no toy.

    A SA-11 Gadfly battery “requires 5 minutes to set up before it is ready for engagement and can be ready for transit again in 5 minutes. The reaction time of the battery from target tracking to missile launch is around 22 seconds.”

  • rudi

    Fox and Friends is in full blown crazy ODS. Unfortunately I have a relative who’s Teabaggin’ and hates Obamama with a pathological passion.
    https://www.facebook.com/foxandfriends?fref=nf
    my question was – What did Raygun do when the USSR shot down a Korea Airliner with a sitting US Congressman?

  • ShannonLeee

    From what I am reading and watching, Russia most likely supplied the separatists with the weaponry and the separatists made a tragic ignorant mistake with a weapon they had no business having access to. More economic sanctions against Russia should be enacted if this is the case. There isnt really much else we can or should do in response. Sabre rattling will not bring back those lost.

  • yoopermoose

    I expect the EU will have more to say on the matter since many of the people on board were from the EU and on their way to an AIDS conference.

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    @yoopermoose:

    Preliminary and unofficial reports on the passengers aboard the ill-fated Flight MH 17 provide this info:

    143 Dutch passengers (the highest number of one nationality)

    27 Australian passengers

    22 Malaysians passengers

    11 Indonesian passengers

    Britain has six passengers, France and Germany have four each, Belgium have three and Canada one.

    Nationalities of the other 58 passengers were not stated in the list. 15 MAS crew members were on the plane.

    Thus far, no American passengers listed.

    There are also reports of many children and of those AIDS researchers you mention.

    Tragic.

  • The_Ohioan

    The dangers of using conflict to promote popularity (and authority). Neo-cons take note.

    “Today, forty per cent of Russia wants real war with Ukraine. Putin himself doesn’t want war with Ukraine. But people are responding to this media machine. Putin needs to lower the temperature.”

    Pavlovsky was especially concerned about one of the pro-Russian military leaders in eastern Ukraine, a former (and possibly current) Russian intelligence officer known to most by his nom de guerre, Igor Strelkov. (Strelkov’s real name is Igor Girkin.)

    A wildly messianic nationalist who cultivates an air of lumpy intrigue, Strelkov has found his way to the battlefields of Chechnya, Serbia, and Transnistria. He is now helping to run the separatist operation in Donetsk.

    http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2014/07/putin-and-the-crash-of-malaysian-airlines-flight-17.html?currentPage=all

  • ShannonLeee

    I would not expect much from Europe. They need Russian gas like we need ME oil. They would probably sacrifice a virgin girl to the Putin idol once a month if required.

  • dduck

    Sad, but maybe true, SL.

  • yoopermoose

    It will be interesting to see what Angela Merkel actions will be since she seems to be the defacto head of the EU.

    http://www.dnaindia.com/world/report-angela-merkel-challenges-vladimir-putin-after-ukraine-crash-but-wary-on-further-sanctions-2003279

    If Russia was involved or supplied the missiles and Merkel decides to do nothing, she will have less standing next time she decides to climb onto her high horse and get pissy the next time the US does something she does not like. (and there will be a next time)

  • dduck

    One theory bandied about is that the spying we do is because Germany intelligence is not forthcoming in some areas that we would like to have. Germany like most of the EU is highly dependent on Russian natural gas and that makes it reluctant to share some information. In short, the Russians have them by the short hairs. Perhaps SL has some insight on this.

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    As yoopermoose mentioned, several of the doomed airliner’s passengers were on their way to an AIDS conference.

    One of them was Dutch doctor Joep M. Lange who helped invent the HIV test and urged sending drugs to poor AIDS patients when the world was resigned to let them die.

    His partner, Jacqueline van Tongeren, was also killed.

    Read more about this hero here.
    …………
    Edited to correct Ms. van Tongeren name and to add link to Joep Lange’s article:

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/07/18/the-aids-battle-lost-a-hero-on-malaysia-airlines-flight-17.html?utm_medium=email&utm_source=newsletter&utm_campaign=cheatsheet_afternoon&cid=newsletter%3Bemail%3Bcheatsheet_afternoon&utm_term=Cheat%20Sheet

  • archangel

    “One of them was Dutch doctor Joep M. Lange who helped invent the HIV test and urged sending drugs to poor AIDS patients when the world was resigned to let them die.
    His partner, Jacqueline von Tongeren, was also killed.’

    Im not weeping. Im screaming. The grief these men who love themselves more than humanity, have brought by killing people of innocence, peace and good.

    Thank you Dorian, and I note the very high number of Dutch passengers. I know they and all the others pull at your heart too.

    I could rant about oil and men who want to be kings of beyond fabulous wealth and power and murder and murder to keep their tin can palaces… but then we’d be talking about much of history in the Americas, Europe, the SubContinent, Asia, Aus and NZ, Africa. The only thing I know from seeing history unfold, are the common people have to rise up and push back hard, for the malignant narcissism of their ‘leaders’ will never stop because asked politely. It would be like asking a toad to turn into a toad stool. Genetically impossible to morph from diseased self centeredness to care of humanity.

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    Thank you Dorian, and I note the very high number of Dutch passengers. I know they and all the others pull at your heart too.

    Thank you for noting that, Dr. E.

    There are now reports that 189 passengers were Dutch.

    The Daily News, here, has some more figures, but above all some touching photographs and stories of the tragedy.

  • rudi

    The BUK SAM system shot down a couple of planes before MH17.
    http://www.vox.com/2014/7/18/5914139/ukrainian-rebels-shot-down-two-planes-in-the-last-month

    The AIR corridor over the Ukraine is used by most airlines flying east to the Orient. As os today, all airlines will use other routes.
    http://www.businessinsider.com/crucial-air-route-goes-through-ukrainian-airspace-2014-7

    Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 reportedly crashed over the volatile region of Ukraine where government forces have been battling pro-Russian separatists. Ukrainian officials have said the plane was shot down by the separatists, raising the possibility commercial aircrafts flying through the area could be vulnerable to potential ground-to-air attacks.

    Even more worrying is that the planned path that brought MH17 near the disputed region, known as airway L980, is one of the most popular and most congested air routes in the world. L980 is a key link between major international hubs in Europe, such as London Heathrow, Amsterdam Schiphol, and Frankfurt, and Asian megacities, like Singapore, Mumbai, and Hong Kong. The airspace over Ukraine is traveled by virtually every commercial flight from Western Europe to south Asia.

    Because of this, the crash could have a significant effect on commercial air travel with hundreds of flights expected to be affected by this incident. For example, at just one hub, Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport, which was the origination point of MH17, there are dozens of flights either en route or scheduled to take L980 in the next 24 hours.

  • DORIAN DE WIND, Military Affairs Columnist

    Thanks for that info, Rudi.

  • ROBERT COUTINHO

    @SL: Just to be fair, the USA is not dependent on ME oil. We import almost all of our imported oil from Canada and Mexico. ME oil does help keep the costs down (supply curves being what they are), but we don’t actually get many shipments of the stuff from Asia.

  • sheknows

    slamfu says:
    “Ok, the horror of this tragedy aside, did anyone here know that they let commercial airlines fly over warzones? I just assumed the would reroute them around. Who the hell would be stupid enough to let a passenger plane fly though such an area? This is really just shocking.”

    Just heard on the news tonight that 54 other commercial flights flew over the same airspace earlier that day.

    Apparently these guys were just the stupidest people on earth who manned the guns at that time.

    I also find it very strange that two Malaysian airliners are involved un such tragedies. What are the odds??

    May God give peace to those families.

  • ShannonLeee

    We get approx half of our oil from Canada and Mexico. We import more oil from SA than we do Mexico. “almost all”, which i would place at over 90%, is statistically incorrect.
    http://www.eia.gov/dnav/pet/pet_move_neti_a_epc0_IMN_mbblpd_a.htm

  • ShannonLeee

    DD, the first thing former Chancellor Gerhard Schröder did after leaving office is take a job as head of the shareholders’ committee of Nord Stream AG, who owns and operates the gas pipeline between Russia and Germany. Under his rule the German government agreed to guarantee a 1 billion euro loan for the company. Russia is deep into German politics and politicians…real estate too.

    Also, many large German companies are heavily invested in the 1.7 billion euro warship project between Russia and France.

    And of course Germany needs Russia’s gas.

    Needless to say, Europe will pay an economic price for trusting Russia. How that plays out is anyone’s guess.