Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was indeed shot down by a Russian-made Buk surface-to-air missile, the company that manufactures those missiles admitted at a press conference Tuesday.
But the missile was not fired by Russia or Russian-backed rebel troops in Ukraine, the company’s chief engineer said. Instead, only Ukraine itself could have fired the missile that brought down the Boeing 777 carrying 298 people on July 17 of last year.
Mikhail Malisevskiy, top engineer for Moscow-based arms conglomerate Almaz-Antey, said that a study conducted by the company shows that the impact of shrapnel on the Malaysia Airlines plane reveals that the missile was fired from an older model of the Buk anti-aircraft system — a model used only by the Ukraine military and not in the arsenal of Russian forces.
The following image depicts a typical Buk missile system.
Malisevsky said that his company is so certain of its conclusions, that it wants to fire a missile to another airliner similar to Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 to prove that the older model is the one that shot down the plane.
While Russia has consistently blamed Ukraine for shooting down the commercial airliner as it flew its normal route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, Western intelligence services have said that the missile could only have been fired from inside territory held by Russia-backed separatist rebels in eastern Ukraine.
Initially, the Russian government cited satellite imagery to demonstrate what it said was the location of the missile launch from inside Ukraine government-held territory. That evidence was attacked last week in an independent study that found the photos had been digitally altered and falsely dated.
The official Russian story then shifted to say that a Ukraine fighter jet shot down Flight MH17, with state-backed Russian media even identifying the specific pilot who allegedly downed the plane.
But with evidence from the official Dutch investigation now leaning heavily toward a ground-to-air missile launch, Russia has now reverted to the allegation that the Ukraine government is responsible for the shootdown.
While at the Tuesday press presentation reps from Almaz-Antey did not specifically name the Ukraine military as the MH17 culprits, they clearly stated the launch position and the type of missile allegedly used in the atrocity clearly pointed at Ukraine.
The study by the defense company showed that the Buk missile blew up between 10 and 15 feet from the left side of the Malaysia Airlines plane’s cockpit, spewing shrapnel in a distinctive pattern into the 777-200’s left wing and engine — a pattern that marked the missile as an older model Buk-M1.
The company said that while the missile was no longer in production in Russia, Ukraine owned 991 Buk-M1 missiles at the time Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 was shot down.
[Featured Image: Daniel Munoz/Getty Images]