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In recently published video and press release SBU (Security Service of Ukraine) claims that intended target for the SA-11 operated by Russian separatists was Russian Aeroflot flight SU2074 (aka AFL-2074) from Moscow to Larnaca, Cyrpus. They claim that their flight paths crossed over with just 500m of vertical separation just 11 minutes prior to MH17 being shot down.

enter image description here enter image description here Images from www.ssu.gov.ua

Allegedly this was supposed to serve as casus belli, and provoke full scale Russian invasion of eastern Ukraine.

This leaves few questions open:

  • Is there any evidence to back factual claims in the press release (movement of SA-11, flight paths overlapping etc)?
  • Has any of said evidence been verified or confirmed by independent sources (for example Western intelligence agencies)?
  • Is the evidence sufficient to draw conclusion about intended target?
  • This question is about motivations, as such, it's off topic. – Sklivvz Aug 8 '14 at 0:26
  • @Sklivvz: I've edited the question to make it more answerable. – vartec Aug 8 '14 at 10:49
  • Please note: answers should concentrate on the facts and not the intentios (the press release mixes them up). – Sklivvz Aug 8 '14 at 10:55
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From the article, Russians mixed up place: http://www.unian.net/politics/948645-nalivaychenko-vmesto-boeing-terroristyi-planirovali-sbit-samolet-aeroflota.html

I started with map and flight data:

http://www.flightradar24.com/data/flights/mh17/#3d6095b

Closest place named Pervomaiskyi:

https://www.google.com/maps/place/47%C2%B059'22.6%22N+38%C2%B047'05.3%22E/@47.9947661,38.8704281,11z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x0

Just 5km away from where the MH17 disappeared.

Then the Aeroflot (SU2074):

http://www.flightradar24.com/data/flights/su2074/#3d62ed7

At approximately 13:07-13:09 UTC they were both quite close to Lozova, and paths crossed.

So, then the second Pervomaiske place:

https://www.google.com/maps/place/48%C2%B005'47.2%22N+37%C2%B034'41.3%22E/@48.1027904,37.5982124,12z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x0:0x0

The SU2074 actual flight path goes little east from Bahatyr. Measuring the distance from closest Pervomaisk to flight path is 60km at closest spot.

Depending on the modification, the maximum range of Buk system missles is 24-50km.

So, at least that does blew the "Mistaken the place" argument.

There was the argument that "Missle system was modified", and so on, but it is hard to imagine why anyone would rather enchance missle system from 50km to 60+km and not move closer to actual trajectory.

Edit: Max range taken from wikipedia: The most capable missile can hit targets as far as 30 miles (48 km) and more than 80,000 feet (24,000 m) in altitude. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buk_missile_system#Comparison

  • 1
    "the maximum range of Buk system missles is 24-50km". Is it really maximum or effective combat range? I imagine that when targeting an aircraft with flies straight at a constant speed, no maneuvers are necessary, thus range would be greatly extended. Still, it's a valid argument. Then again one could say that it's a part of a plan to make it seem as "impossible shot". – vartec Aug 13 '14 at 9:53
  • This research provides with greater details. Plus Russian version, largely based on above. – bytebuster Oct 14 '15 at 1:12

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protected by user5582 Aug 8 '14 at 21:53

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