Locklin on science

Can the Su-25 intercept and shoot down a 777?

Posted in big machines, War nerding by Scott Locklin on July 21, 2014

Personal background: I’ve flown Malaysian Airlines and declare it better and more civilized than any US airline. I’ve been to Ukraine on a business-vacation. I’m sympathetic to the aspirations of the long suffering Ukrainian people. I’m also sympathetic to the position of the Russian government with respect to Ukraine, which is, after all, sort of like their version of Canada, if Canada had annexed part of New England in 1991. I am not sympathetic to the claque of sinister war mongers and imperial Gauleiters in the US State department with respect to their activities in Ukraine and towards Russia. If I had my way, creeps like Vicky “fuck the EU” Nuland and Geoff Pyatt would be facing prison and the firing squad for what they’ve done over there. In my opinion, US policy towards Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union has been knavish, evil and disgusting. My opinion isn’t a mere slavophilic eccentricity; George Kennan, our greatest Cold War diplomat, said more or less the same things before he died.

If this was a shoot down by Donetsk separatists, and even if the Russians supplied the missiles to the separatists (who could have captured them from Ukrainian forces, or simply borrowed a couple from the local arms factories), this doesn’t make the Russians culpable for the tragedy. By that logic, the US is responsible for all the bad things done with weapons it supplies to its proxies, such as ISIS in Syria and Iraq, which is arguably worse. Certainly the US is responsible for the escalation of the situation in Ukraine. I say all this, because passions are high, and the war drums are beating. I am not a  war monger, or apologist for anybody; in fact, I’m the closest thing you’re going to get to an unbiased observer in this disaster. I have no horse in this race. I wish they’d all learn to get along.

So, the Rooskies are now implying that a Ukrainian Su-25 may have shot down flight MH17. Facts and objective reality seem to be in short supply in Western coverage of the Ukraine crisis; I aim to supply some. I am going with the assumption that the Rooskies are telling the truth, and that there was indeed a Ukrainian Su-25 where they said there was. They said the Su-25 came within 2 to 3 miles of the 777.


Everyone agrees that the Boeing 777-200ER was flying over the separatist region at 33,000 feet. A Boeing 777’s cruising speed is about 560mph or Mach 0.84. Its mass is about 500,000 pounds, and it has a wingspan and length of about 200 feet each. The MH17 was flying from West to East, more or less.

The Su-25 Frogfoot is a ground attack aircraft; a modern Sturmovik or, if you like, a Rooskie version of the A-10 Warthog. The wingspan and length of the Su-25 is about 50 feet each, and the mass is about 38,000lbs with a combat load. The ceiling of an unladen Su-25 is about 23,000 feet. With full combat load, an Su-25 can only make it to 16,000 feet. This low combat ceiling was actually a problem in the Soviet-Afghanistan war; the hot air and the tall mountains made it less useful than it could have been. At altitude, the maximum speed of the unladen Su-25 is Mach 0.82; probably considerably lower with combat loads. For air to air armament, it has a pair of 30mm cannons and carries the R-60 missile. The Su-25 is also capable of carrying the Kh-13, though it is not clear that the Ukrainians deploy this missile on their Su-25s. For the sake of argument, we’ll talk about it anyway.


Since it was a Ukrainian Su-25, we can also assume it was heading West to East; more or less the same trajectory as flight MH17. It could have been traveling in some other trajectory, but we can already see the problem with an Su-25 intercepting a 777; it’s too low, and too slow. If you want to believe  the crackpot idea that Ukrainian government were a bunch of sinister schemers who shot down MH17 on purpose, an Su-25 is pretty much the worst armed military aircraft you can imagine for such a task. The Ukrainian air force has a dozen Su-27s and two-dozen Mig-29s perfectly capable of intercepting and shooting down a 777. They also have the Buk missile, and are  capable of placing it somewhere near the Donetsk separatists if they wanted to make them look bad. So, the theory that the evil Ukrainians shot down a 777 with a Su-25 on purpose is … extremely unlikely.

Could an Su-25 have shot down a 777 by accident? Fog of war and all that? Perhaps they thought it was a Russian  plane? Well, let’s see how likely that is. The weapons of the Su-25 capable of doing this are the cannons, the R-60 missile (and its later evolutions, such as the R-73E) and the  K-13 missile.

Cannons: impossible. The Su-25 was at minimum 10,000 feet below the 777. This means simply pointing the cannon at the 777 without stalling would have been a challenge. The ballistic trajectory of the cannon fire would have made this worse. The Gsh-30-2 cannon fires a round which travels at only 2800 feet per second, significantly lower than, say, the round fired by a  338 Lapua sniper rifle. Imagine trying to shoot down an airplane with a rifle, from 2-3 miles away using your eyeball, in a plane, at a ballistic angle. If the MH17 was somehow taken out by cannon fire, it will have obvious 30mm holes in the fuselage. None have been spotted so far.

K-13 missile: extremely unlikely. The K-13 is a Soviet copy of the 50s era AIM-9 sidewinder; an infrared homing missile. Amusingly, the Soviets obtained the AIM-9 design during a skirmish between China and Taiwan in 1958; a dud got stuck in a Mig-17. It is not clear that the Ukrainian air force fields these weapons with their Su-25’s; they’re out of date, and mostly considered useless. Worse, the effective range of a K-13 is only about 1.2 miles, putting the 777 out of effective range. Sure, a K-13 miiiight have made it to a big lumbering 777 with its two big, hot turbofans, but it seems pretty unlikely; a lucky shot. The 16lb of the K-13 warhead is certainly capable of doing harm to a 777’s engines. Maybe it would have even taken out the whole airliner. Doubtful though.

The K-13 AA missile

The K-13 AA missile

R-60 missile: extremely unlikely. If a Su-25 was firing missiles at a 777, this is probably what it was using. The R-60 is also an IR guided missile, though some of the later models use radar proximity fuzing.  Unlike the K-13, this is a modern missile, and it is more likely to  have hit its target if fired. Why is it unlikely? Well, first off, it is unlikely the Ukrainian Su-25s were armed with them in the first place: these are ground attack planes, fighting in a region where the enemy has no aircraft. More importantly, the R-60 has a tiny little 6lb warhead, which is only really dangerous to fragile fighter aircraft. In 1988, an R-60 was fired at a BAe-125 in Botswana. The BAe-125 being a sort of Limey Lear jet, which weighs a mere 25,000lbs; this aircraft is 20 times smaller than a 777 by mass. The BAe-125 was inconvenienced by the R-60, which knocked one of its engines off, but it wasn’t shot down; it landed without further incident. A 777 is vastly larger and more sturdy than any Limey Lear jet. People may recall the KAL007 incident where an airliner was shot down by a Soviet interceptor. The Su-15 flagon interceptor which accomplished this used a brobdingnagian K-8 missile, with an 88lb warhead, which was designed to take out large aircraft. Not a shrimpy little R-60. The R-60 is such a pipsqueak of a missile, it is referred to as the “aphid.”

The R-60 aphid

The R-60 aphid

That’s it; those are the only tools available to the Su-25 for air to air combat. The other available  weapons are bombs and air to surface missiles, which are even more incapable of shooting down anything which is  10,000 feet above the Su-25.

My guess as to what happened … somebody … probably the Donetsk separatists (the least experienced, least well trained, and least well plugged into a military information network), fired a surface to air missile at something they thought was an enemy plane. It could have been the Buk SA-11/17 with its 150lb warhead and 75,000 foot range, just like everyone is reporting. Another candidate is the Kub SAM, which is an underrated SAM platform also in use in that part of the world. Yet another possibility is the S-125 Pechora, which isn’t deployed in Ukraine or Russia, but it is probably still manufactured in the Donbass region. A less likely candidate is the S-75 Dvina (the same thing that took out Gary Powers), though the primitive guidance system and probable lack of deployed installations in Ukraine and Russia make this unlikely. The fact that the MH17 disappeared from radar at 33,000 feet, and the condition of the wreckage indicates it was something really big that hit flight MH17; not a piddly little aphid missile. The pictures of the wreckage don’t indicate any sort of little missile strike which might have knocked off an engine; it looks like the whole plane was shredded. Both engines came down in the same area, more or less in one piece.

Whatever it was, it wasn’t an Su-25. There is also no use going all “Guns of August” on the Russians over something that was very likely beyond their control. Here’s hoping all parties concerned learn to resolve their differences in a civilized manner.

War is bad, m'kay?

War is bad, m’kay?

Interesting links from the rumor mill (as they come in):


Update July 22:
Nobody else has yet noticed that Donetsk manufactures SAMs, or that there are several other potential sources and varieties of such weapons. The Russians are sticking with the Su-25 idea, and haven’t corroborated the Su-27 story, making it seem much less likely.

“Blame the Rooskie” war mongers would do well to remember the Vincennes incident, where the US shot down an Iranian air liner over Iranian airspace, killing a comparable number of innocent civilians.

Update July 23:
A run down of some of the capabilities of the Buk system from “The National Interest” (one of the few sane US foreign policy periodicals):


 Update Aug 16:

A SAM based video game


259 Responses

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  1. GEORGE said, on July 22, 2014 at 11:27 pm

    WHAT ABOUT THIS INFORMATION CLAIMING THAT SERVICE CEILING FOR SU-25 IS 10 KM?http://www.military-today.com/aircraft/sukhoi_su25_frogfoot.htm
    Entered service 1981
    Crew 1 men
    Dimensions and weight
    Length 15.35 m
    Wing span 14.52 m
    Height 5.20 m
    Weight (empty) ?
    Weight (maximum take off) 20 t
    Engines and performance
    Engines 2 x MNPK Soyuz/Gavrilov R-195Sh turbojets
    Traction (dry) 2 x 44.13 kN
    Maximum speed 950 km/h
    Service ceiling 10 km
    Combat radius 400 km

    • Scott Locklin said, on July 23, 2014 at 12:09 am

      It’s wrong. I linked to the Sukhoi corporation’s website; they say 7000 meters.

      Some people claim the Su-39, a successor to the Su-25 which Ukraine doesn’t have, can go to 10000 meters, but considering the wing and engines are the same, I don’t see how. I think it is a typo that got propagated elsewhere.

      • tomkitta said, on July 23, 2014 at 6:28 pm

        Service ceiling for Su-25 is 7000m

        Service ceiling for Su-25S is 10000m

        The 10k versions were only produced in limited amounts.

        Service Ceiling of an aircraft is also not equal to Absolute Ceiling so Su-25 of any version could have easily flown at 10k based on the engines installed in the aircraft.

        • Scott Locklin said, on July 23, 2014 at 6:48 pm

          And the Su-25 can doubtless break Mach 0.84 in a dive, but it still can’t effectively intercept, let alone shoot down a 777.

          • Maserati said, on August 4, 2014 at 8:53 pm

            If you saw the Russian presentation, it didn’t intercept it for long….. but didn’t need to. The OSCE investigators claim the cockpit debris is riddled with gunfire (probably 30mm cannon), but they didn’t say definitively what caliber. They claim they have found no evidence of a missile strike of any kind. All this is mute. Some of the international contracted air traffic controller came forward immediately and already stated the Ukrainian government shot down this plane. Why is this testimony and these reports being silenced, and why aren’t Kiev officials in jail waiting to be executed?

            • Juha-Matti Hakala said, on August 4, 2014 at 10:13 pm

              OSCE investigator(not plural) claimed it was machine-gun fire. Ukraine planes doesn’t have machine-guns and 30mm cannon bullet holes are very, very easy to distinguish from machine-gun fire

              Because Carlos was fake twitter feed. Spanish government said that there were none Spanish working at ATC in Ukraine. Also it’s quite odd for a ATC controller not to speak English, as it’s their working language.

              • Mucha Lucha said, on August 6, 2014 at 6:03 am

                I would just like to point out that the twitter account for the “Spanish air controller” had actually been tweeting pro-rebel & pro-Russian pieces before the shootdown incident occured.

          • mick said, on September 5, 2014 at 10:45 pm

            well.. technically max speed means – maximum speed in dive before plane falls apart. cruise speed is maximum speed possible to achieve in horizontal flight at certain flight level ….

        • Brendan said, on July 23, 2014 at 7:34 pm

          I don’t know anything about planes but I’ll just quote the Russian military officials:
          “The Su-25 was 3-5 km away from the Malaysian plane. Su-25 is capable of climbing to the altitude of 10,000 meters for a short period of time. Its standard armament includes R60 air-to-air missiles, which are capable of locking and hitting targets from 12 km and which are guaranteed to hit the target from the distance of 5 km.”

          • Maserati said, on August 4, 2014 at 8:55 pm

            It also has a 30mm cannon with 250 rounds minimum, and it appears from the wreckage they basically sawed the cockpit right off the aircraft.

        • Patrick said, on October 28, 2014 at 4:41 am

          Are there any information to suggest the the updates has to do with the engines?

      • tomkitta said, on July 23, 2014 at 6:30 pm

        Its not the wings and engines – its the air delivery system to the pilot!

        And yes they can go way higher. Maybe at least 16000k or even more.

        I am to lazy to compute this from the engine data + wing data but I am sure someone out there can try and if we give a bottle of oxygen and 5000USD to some Su-25 pilot we can test it out.

      • Cris Devit said, on July 27, 2014 at 1:45 am

        @ Scott Locklin. It’s service ceiling is indeed 7,000 Mtr , however it does fly sluggishly at 10,000 Mtr.
        Flight MH 17 was in fact flying at 10,000 Mtr, it had been ordered to do so by ATC.
        The R-60 has also been configured as a SAM, sometimes with a booster that is usable on the A2A version.
        I think you should take a further look at this, if anyone wanted Plausible Deniability, the SU-25 Frogfoot was the perfect aircraft to use.

      • Chris devit said, on July 31, 2014 at 3:24 pm

        It depends on what model, the M1 and t model easily make 10,000Mtr and higher, some 2 seat trainers made in Georgia also do this with less adverse effects on the pilots health. It is believed Georgia supplied a few of their SU 25 to Ukraine. The service ceiling of all SU 25’s used by the UAF is 10,000 Mtr. Ukraine AF SU-25 are M1 versions. Avionics and engine upgrade came at T-version.

      • Carpi said, on August 30, 2014 at 9:00 am

        You don’t really know what Ukraine have or have not!
        I know they are crazy enough to shoot on there one civilian, without blinking the eyes.

    • John R. Harvan said, on July 30, 2014 at 7:00 pm

      Well Scotty think about this. The fuselage section has already been determined by independent german investigators to have 30mm bullet holes in it. They have boo dog in this fight. The effective range of the 30 mm cannon is 13,123′ Even if the Su 25 was 10,000 feet below that still put MH17(33,000′) within within the published effective range.
      It is a common known fact that Defense industries do understate parameters of weapons systems

      • Scott Locklin said, on July 30, 2014 at 7:10 pm

        The “independent german investigators,” unless you have come up with a new one, are conspiracy theory mongering cranks, who are asserting the photo linked below has some special evidence only they can see.

        • Maserati said, on August 4, 2014 at 9:09 pm

          The German OSCE investigators are more likely to be Western trolls than conspiracy theorists. I guess the international ATC controllers that came forward to the press and claimed the Ukrainian government, their employer at the time, shot this aircraft down. The entire Ukrainian government and anyone assisting in the planning and cover-up should be in jail awaiting execution for this crime against humanity. The investigation is a lie and a farce, the jury was in three days after.

          • Peter said, on August 4, 2014 at 10:30 pm

            ist a canadian osce guy not german…..
            so canadians are also western trolls?

            • Eric Johnson said, on August 7, 2014 at 2:07 pm

              He says “almost looks like…” That is descriptive, not confirming the damage.

              Those round holes appear to be 10-15 mm in size when compared to nearby rivets. How does a 30mm round squeeze itself down?

    • El_Gordo71 said, on August 5, 2014 at 1:09 pm

      Ukraine had an upgrade program to their SU-25’s in the late ’90s early 2000’s.
      They now have the SU-25M1 and SU-25UBM1. These were primarily in Crimea.
      However, they incorporate some of the engine upgrades from the defunct SU-39 program, giving them an increased ceiling.

      The problem with the SU-25 theory is that no existing version of the SU-25 is capable of intercepting MH17. They are simply not fast enough either at sea level – and much slower at altitude.

      Instead any SU-27 would have to loiter in the flight path IN FRONT of MH17. The Russian radar captures show the SU-25s BEHIND MH17.

      The R60 missile is an IR missile. It would attack the engine. That does not match the observed damage to MH17. The R60 is also too small for the job. Multiple missiles would have to be fired. That would provide time for the pilot to have radioed for help. An R60 missile is not a possible killer of MH17 given the evidence we have.

      An R27 missile is possible. But the same caveats for the SU-25 generally still apply. Fired from behind. R27 uses contact or radar proximity fuses with radar or IR homing. Regardless, when fired from the rear – which is where the Russians say the SU-25’s were in relation to MH17 – it would detonate near the engines or the rear fuselage.

      All the evidence points to MH17 having a missile explode in vicinity of the cockpit. Whatever was fired appears to have come from the front. Since the SU-25s were not in front, they can’t have fired on MH17.

      These facts, plus the ground witnesses who claimed they saw a SAM fire make fire by a BUK the most likely candidate.

      The BUK is a large, valuable, and noticeable system. Prior to MH17, the ‘Separatists’ claimed they had one operational, and the Kiev group denied it or said it was not functional. After MH17 their positions reversed.

      Whichever SAM fired, the evidence points to MH17 damage to the front – the cockpit, which also means the missile was fired from the front. Giving time for the missile to reach altitude, that means it had to be fired from within 15KM from the Russian border.

      If it was a single TELAR from the BUK system operated by the separatists, then this makes perfect sense.

      It was an accident. The TELAR would not have access to the Eurocontrol flight information, and would not be able to tell a 777 from an AN-26, or other military transport.

      If it was a Ukrainian TELAR, it would be part of a unit. The unit is large and would include a radar vehicle, several Transporter, Erector Launchers (TEL), and a couple of TELARs (TEL w/ radar). Because it is so valuable a system, they would need to have security units, ammunition vehicles, fuel vehicles, etc. This would all be very high signature with dozens and dozens of military vehicles on the road. But in fact there is no signature at that location, within 10KM of the Russian border.

      If it was a Ukrainian TELAR it would have to be just the TELAR, sent deep into Separatist territory without any protection or logisitcal support. Perhaps deserters? If so, they would have lots of opportunity to join the Separatists, but would have to have refused to take those opportunities.

      What about a Ukrainian plot to infiltrate a single TELAR from a BUK system deep into ‘separatist’ territory for the express purpose of shooting down MH17?

      Such a plot would require special troops who were also capable of running a BUK system. Air defenders are not normally members of such special units. They would need to be trained. They would have to use infrequently traveled roads to get in without notice. All of this would demand time.

      MH17 was apparently a standard flight. Could they train for weeks, infiltrate, and then wait to ambush the first civilian flight? Possible but highly, highly improbable. There are too many conditions, too many “only if’s” that must all be satisfied before this becomes possible.

      • franksz said, on August 5, 2014 at 11:06 pm

        This is all utter crap.
        The separatists had shot down several Ukrainian fighters and an AN26 transport prior to the MH17 downing.
        Therefore the Ukrainians, and the Americans, knew full well what equipment was being used.
        But Ukrainian ATCs OKd commercial flights over this area? That clearly makes the Ukrainians and the USA utterly culpable for the deaths of those innocent people on MH17. It’s a shocking travesty that makes one feel sick to the core to be part of this amoral and cold blooded machine, that not only swamps its people with propaganda about foreign nations, but even worse arms nations like Israel to kill Palestinian children, send guns to groups like ISIS, helps Islamic extremists gas people in Syria under false flag pretenses, and convinces people that nation states should be destroyed because of non existent WMDs.

        • El_Gordo71 said, on August 6, 2014 at 2:22 pm

          Seems strange to blame Air Controllers but not any of the people actually firing missiles.

          I think there is plenty of blame to go around. The problem I see is that each of those who own a part of the blame are eager to point to someone else’s culpability, and are totally uninterested in fixing their own issues.

  2. Faisal said, on July 23, 2014 at 4:47 am

    Russia did not say the SU-25 shot MH17, but they said the SU-25 was within the vicinity when the Ukranian claim there were no military aircraft in the area. They asked why and is the aircraft still loitering the area after MH17 went down. Also in the briefing they did mention around 4 Ukrainian BUK launchers are also in the area and US satellite are directly above the area. The Ukrainian radar activity also up by 50% on that particular day.

    • Scott Locklin said, on July 23, 2014 at 3:54 pm

      When they mention things like the R-60 missile it is equipped with, they’re certainly implying that it could have shot down the airliner. I consider it a lot more likely the separatists were shooting at the Su-25 and hit the airliner.

      • passerby said, on August 12, 2014 at 2:47 am

        It has been reported that Ukrainian military pilots used civilian flights as a cover before, and witnesses on the ground reported seeing mutlilple aircraft in the air that day.

        I also believe that the most probable culprit is a separatist Buk operator shooting at a Su-25 and unable to distinguish it from MH17 3km+ above it. Or perhaps over-confident in his ability to target the missile on the Su even though perhaps he might have seen a signature of another plane in vicinity. Also possible he did not know what the larger plane is, and it might have appeared that the Su was escorting the larger plane (that might have looked close in size to a military IL-76) which would have suggested that it was an important target.

        It appears to have been an accident that was exacerbated by extreme negligence on the part of Ukrainian authorities – not closing the airspace (completely – did not want to lose transit fees), allowing military pilots fly missions with civilian planes overhead, downplaying the scale of the war (anti-terrorist implies a small scale police operation, not a concern for an airline flying 10km+ above). So, laying the blame on Russia alone was a one-sided approach taken to the extreme. Basically, the tragic accident was used as a prop for a PR campaign to push through another round of sanctions.

      • Rational said, on September 6, 2014 at 1:49 am

        Makes sense!

  3. Wei said, on July 23, 2014 at 5:36 am

    The wreckage pictures suggest flight MH17 was down by radar guided missile, because heat seeking missile normally will go after the plane engines. SU-25 doesn’t have the ability to use radar guided missile.

    Here is what might have happened: Flight MH17 was instructed to change its original flight path, and its flight altitude to 33,000ft (same as the service ceiling of SU-25M1), and was “accompanied” by Ukrainian SU-25 – It was deliberately made looked like a transporter plane escorted by fighter and the rebels took the bait.

    • tomkitta said, on July 23, 2014 at 6:26 pm

      R60 detonates in the same pattern as SA-11 missiles – i.e. not on impact but in close proximity.

      The main difference is that the R60 is a tiny self defence missile with tiny warhead vs more then 20 times+ bigger SA-11.

      • Scott Locklin said, on July 23, 2014 at 6:40 pm

        I believe the proximity fuze is only on certain models of the R-60. Correct me if I am wrong.

    • Darren X said, on July 26, 2014 at 12:52 pm

      “Here’s what might have happened”.

      Lots of things “might have happened”. Maybe aliens shot the plane down. Why not consider what is most likely to have happened, rather than giving any credence to Russian suggestions when you’ve **already noticed** that the Russians have suggested something (SU-25 shot MH17 down) that is completely impossible?

      Bizarre conspiracy theories are fun for kids, not adults.

      • passerby said, on August 12, 2014 at 2:53 am

        Lots of things “might have happened”. So true. So, why not find out exactly what had happended before starting WWIII over a “most likely scenario” ?

    • Tham said, on July 27, 2014 at 2:27 am

      MH17 was ambushed. The Su-25 fired the Aphids head on, detonating near the left wing
      trailing edge, raking the left cockpit area with rods.

    • Въ said, on July 31, 2014 at 4:35 pm

      With what? The rebels don’t have any antiaircraft missles of the required range.

  4. AW said, on July 23, 2014 at 7:30 am

    Ukraine has at least one SU-25 M1 (upgraded version) which can be equipped with Vympel R-73. this makes shooting down the plane entirely possible.

    • Scott Locklin said, on July 23, 2014 at 3:56 pm

      Well, it is possible, but rather unlikely (they’re down one of the M1’s for sure as of July 16, and two more Su25’s this morning). Even if they were armed with an R-73 (doubtful); intercepting a 777 on a climbing path (the Russians said the Su-25 was gaining altitude to intercept) would be extremely difficult considering the speeds and capabilities of the two aircraft. Besides, the R-73 would have hit an engine; I don’t see any catastrophic engine damage in the wreckage.

      • AW said, on July 23, 2014 at 4:26 pm

        That’s why I am more in favor of the SAM downing the plane. The question is who fired it. And if it was indeed a SAM then there should be some record of intense infra-red radiation picked up by USA’s SBIRS ? It would be nice if this evidence could be made public, and put an end to all the speculation…

        • Scott Locklin said, on July 23, 2014 at 7:01 pm

          The present US government is so godawful paranoid about releasing secret information, even if they had some, they’d be worried the Russians or Chinese would be able to learn new tricks from it. As it is, they seem content to point to VKontakt posts, as if those mean something.

  5. Anton Sugra said, on July 23, 2014 at 12:30 pm

    It can be modified for a one off mission. As well as a deadlier missile for a one off mission. And Ukraine is rather advanced when it comes to missiles and planes. I mean, they build Antonovs as well as a whole host of missiles.

    • Scott Locklin said, on July 23, 2014 at 4:11 pm

      I don’t understand why people think Ukraine is some primitive backwater, and only Russia has missiles and such. Ukraine has a space program and manufactures ICBMs. I mean, here is a Ukraine company which sells the Buk, the Kub and many other AA missiles. Some of their factories are in Donetsk, as I understand things:


    • Jesse said, on July 24, 2014 at 12:34 pm

      Antonov’s were built with a major Russian support — up to 95%. It’s not correct to say that Antonov’s are Ukraine-built airplanes. The company was established in Novosibirsk and then was moved to Kiev due to political reasons. Russian engineer Oleg Antonov kept bringing engineering groups from Russia and kept getting support from Russian aviation insitutes. As soon as USSR collapsed, Antonov company stopped receiving support which resulted in its business disfunction. Today Antonov company literally belongs to Russia since Russia is its source of funding and receiver of production, along with North Korea and Cuba (see for yourself in wikipedia. An-148 and other planes). Modern products of Antonov don’t satisfy European/North American standards and are used only in the Russian market. Ukrainian airplane building was high during the Soviet era but today it’s in shambles.

  6. […] they did it, they didn’t use an SU-25. [Locklin on […]

  7. […] they did it, they didn’t use an SU-25. [Locklin on […]

  8. the term "cervice ceiling" gets thrown around a lot these days, but what does it mean? said, on July 23, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    Is the author aware that the “service ceiling” of an aircraft is not the maximum altitude an aircraft can reach, but rather the altitude at which the rate of climb drops below a value considered useful or practical? According to Wikipedia, a jet aircraft will typically still achieve a rate of climb of 500 ft/min at its “service ceiling”.

    • Scott Locklin said, on July 23, 2014 at 6:43 pm

      Are you aware that the Su-25 had problems in Afghanistan because its service ceiling is crap? I mean, I did mention this in the article.
      The fact that the Su-25 is slower than a 777 at its top speed is rather more damning.

      • pip said, on July 30, 2014 at 6:57 pm

        For most civilian planes, the absolute ceiling seems to be about 10% higher than the service ceiling. For a su-25, that would be around 7700m. A “pipsqueak” a-a missile probably won’t take much away from that. Yes, shootdown by plane it is still unlikely. I’m just saying.

  9. tomkitta said, on July 23, 2014 at 6:23 pm

    First of all why would a Su-25 be used to down an airliner – that is like putting a nail with a wooden stick.

    The article above is severely flawed as it doesn’t distinguish between

    “Service Ceiling”


    “Absolute Ceiling”

    Of an aircraft.

    “Service Ceiling” = normal max altitude an aircraft is cleared to fly.
    “Absolute Ceiling” = the highest an aircraft can fly level – the top height it can go to.

    Needless to say we know that for all aircraft “Absolute Ceiling” > “Absolute Ceiling”. For fighter planes this is usually around 50% more.

    Now for our friendly Su-25 the limit of 7000m comes from the air delivery system to the pilot(s). The Su-25S has a “Service Ceiling” of 10,000m but it never entered mass production – only limited.

    So how far can Su-25 go before it literally drops? Well, we know the thrust of the jet engines it has and the wings it has + the fact jet engines are far less effected then piston engines by thin air. Thus, ignoring air delivery to the pilot it is not out of the question for Su-25 to go to at least 14000m or even 16000m – this is the altitude that WWII German fighters got to with primitive jet engines.

    Now I was unable to find top speed of Su-25 at 7000m or 10,000m but that could be calculated as well. Given see level top of 950km/h I don’t see this figure dropping at 10k so it is at least that, more likely closer to 1100km/h.

    So in theory Su-25 could fire a pair of R-60s and with luck get the airliner with them. Through this seems very unlikely in practice.

    Google Books have specs on Su-25 – I doubt Google lies in its Book translation or someone has a conspiracy theory based on 20 year old book.

    • Scott Locklin said, on July 23, 2014 at 6:27 pm

      Are you actually asserting an aircraft which has a service ceiling of 7000 meters, and with a max speed which is lower than that of a 777 could be used to intercept a 777 at 10000 meters? Because if you’re asserting this, you need a lesson in trigonometry at the very least.

      The entire point of this article is that it is practically impossible for an Su-25 to shoot down an airliner. Quibbling over service ceilings and whether or not they might have outfitted a Ukrainian Su-25 driver with a pressure suit in anticipation of miraculously shooting down a 777, rather than, you know, using a SAM or an Su-27; well, you’re not exactly bringing clarity to the subject here.

      • su25 said, on July 24, 2014 at 1:46 pm

        Official ukrainian specs: service ceiling up to 10000m

        • Scott Locklin said, on July 24, 2014 at 4:49 pm

          You people never give up, do you? OK, let’s say you could fly at 10,000 meters with an Su-25 fueled by magical Ukrainian jet fuel made from salo and pixie dust; how would it accomplish an interception of a 777 whose cruising velocity is higher than the top speed of an Su-25?

          • su25 said, on July 24, 2014 at 6:14 pm

            Interesting how armchair experts know better, what the SU25 capabilities are, than a Russian AF general.
            http://irbis-nbuv.gov.ua/cgi-bin/irbis_nbuv/cgiirbis_64.exe?C21COM=2&I21DBN=UJRN&P21DBN=UJRN&Z21ID=&IMAGE_FILE_DOWNLOAD=1&Image_file_name=PDF/aktit_2013_7_11.pdf Table 3 offers ceiling data.
            By your logic one must wonder how an A10, larger, heavier, less streamlined, with less powerful engines can get at 13700m…
            As mentioned by tomkitta, the 7000m ceiling is because of pilot breathing requirements, not some inherent aircraft limitations. It’s quite capable to reach Mach 1, without load.
            BTW, the specs on Sukhoi’s site, and the infamous Wikipedia, are referring to the simplified, export K version, a derivative of the first variant. Since then, more enhancements were added.
            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJa4EeV36Rk timemark 5:33
            Please tell that craft/pilot it’s impossible to fly at 8700m…
            Errare humanum est, perseverare autem diabolicum!

            • El_Gordo71 said, on August 6, 2014 at 2:50 pm

              Engines have nothing to do with it. The U2 has tiny engines and flies at more than 25,000 meters.

              Wing area and wing profile are the important factors.

              Wing area of an A10 is greater than that of an SU-25. This also why it can fly more slowly to attack targets with its gun.

              I don’t recall that the Russian Air Force General said the SU25 DID shoot down the airliner, only that it could. And he wanted an explanation of why they were there. (Obviously to hide from missiles in civilian radar returns)

              And the SU25 could… with caveats for speed, altitude, and a non-standard load of munitions. But it is obviously well outside the normal use of the aircraft, and a huge stretch of its capabilities.

              Perhaps it is capable of reaching Mach1 without load, in certain conditions. Are you claiming it can carry heavy missiles while flying higher than its published maximum ceiling, and flying faster than its published maximum speed?

              More weight means less altitude and less speed. The only SU-25 missiles that could shoot down MH17 are heavy radar-guided ones – heavy ones that the SU25 doesn’t normally carry, and that the Ukrainians have no reason to carry – because they have no enemy aircraft to shoot them at.

              I believe normal procedure is to drop munitions before landing, to prevent airfield-damaging explosions on the Runway – which can damage other aircraft on that runway. Do Russians or Ukrainians do that differently?

              So why would bankrupt Ukraine be flying with EXPENSIVE missiles, that they have no expectation of using, and which will have to be dropped before landing?

              The SU25 theory is not IMPOSSIBLE. It is simply so improbable, so difficult, requires so many conditions for it to be possible, that there is no way the Ukrainians could do it without a huge helping of blind luck.

              Do you think even the Kiev regime would gamble their existence on using an SU-25 to do something that has a 90% of resulting in the world knowing they intentionally fired on an airliner, and turning on them, and only a 10% chance of success?

              Too many ‘ifs’. Too many instances where people would have to act against their own best interests or take stupid (stupid because unnecessary) risks.

              It simply doesn’t compute.

          • su25 said, on July 24, 2014 at 8:47 pm

            “The oxygen system was used to supply an air-oxygen mixture to the
            pilot’s oxygen mask at altitudes in excess of 6,600ft (2,000m), while above
            23,000ft (7,000m) only pure oxygen was provided.”
            “During pre-planned strike missions, the Su-25 pilots were ordered to enter into steep
            diving attack runs for bomb drops from 23,100 to 26,400ft (7,000 to 8,000m)
            and even 29,700ft (9,000m), while minimum altitude to commence climb-out
            after releasing the ordnance was required to be no lower than 14,850ft (4,500m).
            There were some other issues caused by the transition to high-altitude
            operations, such as the frequent health problems reported by the Frogfoot
            pilots due to the aircraft’s non-pressurized cockpit; they suffered from the
            rapid changes in the atmospheric pressure and the frequent use of pure oxygen
            for breathing.”

          • Maxx said, on July 25, 2014 at 5:23 am

            It’s basically a blunder on the Russian side… for all the preparation they’ve put together they forgot to double check the capabilities & spec of the Su-25… its a tactical bomber/close support plane made for taking out ground targets. Certainly not the plane to use to take out an airliner flying 3 km above its maximum clean altitude. Not to mention the fact that the airliner’s cruising speed is almost as fast as the Su-25’s maximum unloaded speed.

            It would be more believable if they claimed it was a MiG29 or Su27 Flanker… the Ukrainian military has these planes.

          • su25 said, on July 25, 2014 at 3:05 pm

            For someone to claim to “have a particular dislike of self-anointed “experts,” bad science journalism, magical thinking disguised as “scientific” and popular charlatanry which violates the laws of thermodynamics, and plan on exposing this sort of nonsense to as much popular contempt as I can muster.”, and the lack of any response to the evidence, and proofs, I can conclude that’s just hot air, only appliable to others…

          • Nemo said, on July 25, 2014 at 10:38 pm

            Interception might have been accomplished by the help from Ukrainian Flight Control tower…why just before the shootdown the 777 has made that “funky” maneuver exiting the corridor…?

          • Nemo said, on July 29, 2014 at 6:57 pm

            Latest news are that SU-25 pilot used cannons to take down the Boeing…

            • Scott Locklin said, on July 29, 2014 at 7:19 pm

              Try as I might, I can see no such “bullet holes.” Looks like SAM shrapnel to me.

              Click to access Cockpit-MH017.pdf

              • Nemo said, on July 29, 2014 at 8:24 pm

                I don’t want to sound like a troll (but I do anyway, I apologize) I also looked at the images, some holes are just perfectly round…and SU-25 gun can also shoot high explosive fragmentation grenades…. It’s just to add another twist to the whole story…

                • Scott Locklin said, on July 29, 2014 at 8:34 pm

                  Well, if you have better pictures than the one I linked to, I’ll look. Disagreeing isn’t the same as trolling; it’s just disagreeing, so long as it is backed up by something more substantive than a link to a David Icke website (with all respect due Mr. Icke for his “lizard people” thing, which I have adopted as a metaphor at least).

                  • Nemo said, on July 29, 2014 at 8:53 pm

                    True, unfortunately except or some Russian news sites and one or two other I can not find decent proof for the story. You may check this link http://www.1tv.ru/news/world/263938

              • Nemo said, on July 30, 2014 at 6:12 pm

                One of the issues I have with this picture you attached is why does it look like as damage to the body came from the inside? (The way it is bent toward outside)

              • Nemo said, on July 30, 2014 at 6:14 pm

                While all the damage holes that seem to be caused from “outside” are perfectly round? That is funny…as it seems (if we assume gun was used) that there were two attacks from two sides…

      • Cris Devit said, on July 27, 2014 at 2:00 am

        @ Scott Locklin. Plausible Deniability, it’s pretty obvious you are no expert on combat aircraft, that is no reason to denigrate others that know more about the subject matter. You state as fact that ” it is practically impossible for an Su-25 to shoot down an airliner “. Such a feat is,in fact easily achieved by an SU-25, spesialy when ATC has ordered the airliner to fly at 10,000 Mtr.

        • Scott Locklin said, on July 28, 2014 at 4:35 pm

          Feel free to demonstrate how this marvel might have taken place. Nobody here has managed to do so, beyond quibbling about service ceilings. If Ukraine wanted “plausible deniability” they’d put a bomb in the airliner or use a SAM instead of attempting the practically impossible with an attack plane.

    • youricarma said, on July 24, 2014 at 5:04 pm

      Good points. And there are some other factors to take into account too.

      For instance are we talking about the Su-25 (ceiling = 7,000 meter 22,966 feet) or was it a Su-25T (ceiling = 10,000 m 32,808 feet)?

      But like said we should look at the absolute ceiling, also known as coffin corner http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coffin_corner_%28aviation%29

      But then is also depends on other factors like how much load the SU-25 carried?

      If we have to assume that the SU-25 carried air-to-air missiles and/or other weaponry that will significantly, negatively influence it’s absolute ceiling.

      For example:

      (A, Su-25K; B, Su-25UTG) http://www.militaryphotos.net/forums/showthread.php?138750-Su-25SM

      Service ceiling: clean: A, B 7,000 m (22,960 ft), with max weapons: A 5,000 m (16,400 ft)

      Other problem is that even if an aeroplane technicaly has a much higher absolute ceiling/coffin corner it doesn’t mean it is able to reach that height with it’s given engine power.

      “While these aircraft’s absolute ceiling is much higher than standard operational purposes, it is impossible to reach (because of the vertical speed asymptotically approaching zero) without afterburners or other devices temporarily increasing thrust.” http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceiling_%28aeronautics%29

      Assumimg it was a Su-25T (which we don’t even know yet) the plane would be operating at it’s maximum possibilties unloaded and most likely impossible if the Su-25T was loaded with rockets at MH17’s cruising altitude at 33,000 feet. The plane simply wasn’t designed for this kind of action.

      Loads of info about SU-25 and it’s weapon systems including info about SAM’s here: http://cdn.akamai.steamstatic.com/steam/apps/245580/manuals/Su-25%20Flight%20Manual%20EN.pdf

      • Scott Locklin said, on July 24, 2014 at 6:26 pm

        I’m pretty sure only Russia fields the T model.

    • Cris Devit said, on July 27, 2014 at 2:10 am

      Plausible Deniability

  10. Opperdienaar (@Opperdienaar) said, on July 23, 2014 at 7:35 pm

    Perhaps the SU25 could have spoofed the civilian radar transponder into making it look like a military plane, triggering the SA11 launch.

    • Scott Locklin said, on July 23, 2014 at 7:49 pm

      I consider that even less likely than an Su-25 shoot down. The Su-25 is a small and relatively primitive aircraft, as far as electronics go. Maybe an ECM aircraft could have done this trick (why would they?), but the more likely scenario is someone on the ground got confused, and the Su-25 probably had nothing to do with it.

      Fun Adam Corrola podcast, BTW, I only got the chance to listen this evening. I think they’ve gone off the rails here, but I’m entertained anyway.

  11. andreasandre said, on July 23, 2014 at 8:45 pm

    To find out the truth experts need investigation politics need noise and ordinary people need peace.

    • Scott Locklin said, on July 23, 2014 at 8:49 pm

      Amen, brother.

    • Gene said, on July 24, 2014 at 1:39 am

      Truer words were never said. What seems important now, will seem trivial if a major conflict were to develop.

  12. Gene said, on July 23, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    Concerning the capabilities of Ukraine, in 2003 I visited the Yuzhnoye Design Bureau in Dniepropetrovsk, Ukraine. They’re quite advanced. I remember there was a mock-up on display outside of the medium range ballistic missile that the Soviets tried to transport to Cuba in 1962. I believe since that time they went on to manufacture ICBMs. I wouldn’t doubt that certain components of the SA-11 are manufactured in Ukraine.

    • Scott Locklin said, on July 24, 2014 at 5:54 am

      Ukroboronservice claims they make the AA missiles. It’s not clear where the factories are, but I almost guarantee some of them are in the separatist regions.

      As I recall, the SS-18 Satan is (or was) made by the factories of the Yuzhnoye Design Bureau. Must have been a cool visit.

  13. MH17: Cold War Replay? said, on July 23, 2014 at 9:40 pm

    […] Airlines Flight 17—a Ukrainian SU-25—couldn’t actually reach that particular altitude and doesn’t have the weaponry onboard capable of taking down a plane 10,000 feet further […]

    • Maserati said, on August 4, 2014 at 9:23 pm

      Wrong on both counts.

  14. franksz said, on July 24, 2014 at 8:04 am

    Can someone enlighten me on exactly how the SAM (BUK) operators would be identifying their target? If the target is at 10k m what are they using? Would they need visual confirmation from a further plane (like the Su25) or are binoculars sufficient? Does the SAM system have some additional electronics that interpret info other than visual, which would be used in the identification (such as monitoring onboard communications of the target)?
    Is it also possible, as some have suggested, that the SAM operators were baited into believing the Su25 was escorting the 777? I would have thought that the operators should have been clearly presented with data showing that the escort was on different level and trajectory, making this unlikely?
    Thanks in advance

    • Scott Locklin said, on July 24, 2014 at 4:55 pm

      There’s information on the airplane nerd forums. Not sure how accurate it is. Supposedly it has a couple of modes, depending on which, if any, radar system is hooked up to it. I haven’t attempted to get detail on the other weapons systems which could have been used.
      “Baited” seems unlikely, but they might very well have been shooting at an Su-25. That seems quite likely, since they’ve been shooting them out of the skies with some regularity.

      • franksz said, on July 24, 2014 at 8:54 pm

        OK thanks will check. I do not understand why BUK operators would be firing on something they could not identify. I understand that there are reports of people saying that they *were told* they had hit something, but not reports that someone aimed and hit something. The latter, I would want to know, on what information they committed to fire. Information is everything today.

      • Tel said, on August 3, 2014 at 10:17 am

        This also answers your question above, “why would ECM be activated?” Although the Su-25 is an old design, upgrading electonics is very easy, no airframe or engine changes are required. The Su-25 has plenty of mount points, and can carry the weight easily enough, very likely there’s an ECM pod that bolts right on. Such an ECM pod would probably activate automatically, especially since the BUC is radar guided and since the Ukrainians had a very good idea of what they are facing.

        Here’s my best effort theory that is relatively simple and fits all the facts:

        [1] There probably were SU-25’s in the air along with MH17, evidence being witness accounts at the time they heard jets close to the ground (i.e. much louder than a flyover at 30,000′) and they heard jets AFTER the 777 was destroyed. Also, evidence from the Russian radar, which might be lies, but strange sort of story to invent, also if you were going to invent such a story, why pick an Su-25?

        [2] We know that MH17 was flying approx 300 miles more to the North than usual, people kept screen shots from various flight trackers, and newspaper reports confirmed it. Normal flights were over the Sea of Azov, avoiding the worst of the combat region. The alternative flight might have been due to weather, but at any rate it would have been Ukrainian ATC involved and not the rebels. This is backed up by the Ukrainians hiding the ATC voice recordings, also backed up by that Spanish ATC guy although his story is unverified.

        [3] The rebels could have destroyed or hidden those black box recorders but they handed them over, implying that they thought it would help their case.

        [4] Damage to the 777 does have *some* neat round holes that could well be around inch diameter (based on photos on the web, some of which a very detailed, do a search) but it also has a *lot* of jagged triangular holes of random sizes and orientation. Very clearly some holes are going in while others are coming out. That’s unusual. The Su-25 is known to fire explosive fragmentation rounds, so one possible explanation for the damage is the bullet punched a neat round hole on the way in, the exploded ripping many jagged exit holes. Another explanation is shrapnel from a proximity fuse missile but difficult to explain why some holes punch inwards and others punch outwards.

        [5] Damage to the 777 is mostly at the front, implying the hit was near the cockpit. Some might think that an infra-red missile will always chase down the aircraft from behind and fly “up the tail pipe” but sidewinder (and copies) use proportional navigation which means it could hit the cockpit if launched cirrectly, this would allow a smaller missile to kill a larger aircraft, but it would be a lucky shot, and the 777 broke up pretty badly in the air so I agree with Scott that the 777 was hit hard. Spraying autocannon fire from several miles away would not result in such localized damage, bullet holes would be spread all over, but we can observe the tail sections of the 777 have no such holes.

        [6] As mentioned above, some sort of ECM (or something similar) was activated at the time, messing up nearby civilian radar. By far the most common reason to activate ECM would be triggered defensively in response to radar lock, and the entire design of the ECM is to defeat the radar lock.

        [7] We know that all parties had access to BUK launchers (Russia, Ukraine and the rebel forces). BUK transports have been filmed inside rebel territory and they captured some Ukrainian launchers. We know the rebels can and do shoot down Su-25’s.

        Thus, the most plausible explanation is that Ukraine ATC sent MH17 deliberately over the combat zone in order to put the rebels at a disadvantage. Same reason Hamas hides rockets in hospitals; people do that kind of thing, it’s war. By using a large civilan air liner as cover, they opened the opportunity for running some Su-25’s deep into rebel territory without offering the rebels a clear shot to make use of their anti-air capabilities. Those Su-25’s were never intended to be used to attack the 777, they were intended to be shooting up some rebel ground bases.

        The rebels got trigger happy and fired at the Su-25, the ECM saved the SU-25 but the missile went after the 777 instead. Very unlikely that the rebels have such expert operators to be able to program the BUK for specific targets, probably earlier Su-25 shoot downs made them over confident, maybe the ECM enhancement is new and experimental (although if Ukraine can get any material help from Western Europe, you would think ECM pods would be just the ticket under the circumstance).

        This explains why the Ukrainians would deny the SU-25’s were there, and it explains why the Ukranians don’t want any conversation with the 777 pilot to be published. It also explains why the Russians want the throw the blame off the rebel forces, especially if Russia provided unofficial training and repair work for the BUK systems. Note that corruption is high in Russia, it is entirely possible that sympathetic Russians are privately helping the rebels and would continue to do so regardless of Putin.

        It fits just about all of the known facts, except for the strange holes punching inwards and outwards in the same panel. I’ve seen people posting photos of other aircraft damaged by BUK missiles and all the fragment holes punch inwards. It fits the plausible motives of all parties.

        • rob said, on August 5, 2014 at 11:47 am

          Agreed, and good synopsis.
          One question.. reading about the Buk.. it’s a missile that can be seen up to 20/30kms away as it leaves a trail.
          Not hearing of any eye witness accounts on the ground.

          • Juha-Matti Hakala said, on August 5, 2014 at 7:10 pm

            Yes there are, but they are as reliable as Russian media/DoD.

        • josip said, on August 5, 2014 at 7:28 pm

          Hello Tel

          Thank you for this post. So far one of the most plausible explanations to me. I’m glad to see that – in all that fog of disinformation – there are still people who at least try to keep somewhat of a clear view on what is going on. This gives me hope and confidence in freedom and democracy, in which I – after all – somehow still believe.
          To add my 50 cent: I don’t want to go in detail much further, as most has been mentioned already, but I want to return to the “likeliness” issue and try to sum it up somehow…

          so possible scenario’s from “evil ukraine” via “sad accident” to “evil russia” are:

          1. some evil forces within the western/ukrainan goverment plotted a “false flag operation” , plannig to shoot down a civil airliner and blaming the rebels to mobilize public opinion for further pressure on russia. using either

          a) a purpose built interceptor – very unlikely because the risk of being uncovered (the mere presence of an ukrainan interceptor that close to the russian border and in plain “view” of russian radar/intelligence) at the time of such an incident would be just too high.

          b) SAM firing from the ground and later blaming the rebels – also (in my view) unlikely as this would automatically raise the question, why the rebels would be shooting at a sole plane, traveling on a straight course from west to east at 30’000 ft alt (while international airtraffic is known to sometimes present there). this just too looks to stupid to be carried out this way.

          c) a su 25 ground attack plane, as such not too suspicious but this time prepared, trained and equipped for a special mission, meets an airliner for a “rendezevous” from wich one disappears afterwards while the other disintergrates… hmm – not entirely unplausible but very much “james bond” like. It also would probably need help from various different parties (georgian airforce or others) to be established. Thus increasing the possibility of a information leak. Moreover, the coincidence of an airliner being ordered by ukrainan air control to fly over this combat zone while a su 25 ground attack plane is on a combat mission at the very same place is also quite risky as this would be observed too and therefor bear the risk of raising questions.

          d) a su 25 ground attack plane is flying into the combat zone. A neutral airliner is directed to the same area. Suddently a BUK missile from one side or another rises, aimed at the airliner. The SAM would help point the finger toward the rebels even when the wreck would be recovered, as it could be fired from anyone, while 30mm cannon hits would clearly point towards an ukrainan military jet. Even if the presence of the su 25 would be proven, this would only help to cement the theory, that it was the rebels who fired the BUKs ( btw: what kind of weapon did they use when firing on the su25 and the recce antonov which they shot down and at what altitudes? IF it was some sinister “false flag” operation, i would opt for that one. Assuming that those involved are as clever as they are evil (which is, on the other hand, rarely the case).

          2. a) The ukrainian sides learns, that rebel forces has a BUK weapon system at hand. so they send their su 25 ground attack planes into the combat zone while a neutral airliner is directed to the same area. the su 25 attacks targets under “cover” or just provokes rebel forces to bring their heavy equippment into action. the shot misses the su 25 but goes for the airliner instead. The rebels are just skilled enough to recon the attack plane and aim the BUK towards it, but still don’t know all possibilities and dangers – so the shot goes terribly wrong, missing its target but hitting the airliner instead. Basically what you said and what sounds at least “very likely” to me somehow. One can argue about the degree of intention to risk innocent lives, but it would be very clear, that someone who sends a ground attack plane in an area defended by SAM’s while a civil passenger jet flies over bears a serious degree of guilt in this matter.

          b) same situation as above, but the meeting of the passenger jet and the ground attack plane over a combat zone wich is defended by high performance SAM’s is purely coincidential and the result of sheer chaos on the west-ukrainan side (civilian and military authorities not talking together). This too is – IMHO – highly possible. But doesn’t make the self proclaimed ukrainan goverment look any better.

          and last but not least:

          3. a) east ukrainan desperados or pro russian separatists as one might call them, under fire and constant attack for weeks by planes, tanks and artillery got access to a sophisticated Weapon system (by what ever source). they just learned to aim and fire the thing but they lacked the intelligence to clearly identify their target, so they – after probably beeing attacked by a su 25 ground attack plane – aimed the rockets at the next plane approaching which happened to be a passenger jet, flying at over twice the altitude as their usual attackers are comming in. maybe thinking it to be another recconnaissance plane…. not completly unlikely but this actually just cements putin’s position, blaming the ukrainan goverment for causing all the chaos – or do you think, a controll freak like putin would just hand over such weapon systems to some irregulars without providing some skilled crew and some liaison officers with it? And do you think, this skilled crew – if provided, would just reply “yes sir” and aim a target, looking like passenger jet, behaving like passenger jet, and flying at a altitude and direction which would be typical for a passenger jet, just because some masked warlord tells them to do so? This makes no sense to me, really.

          but still theres another possibillity:

          b) gung ho pro putin warriors got in possesion of some deadly weapons, either by robbing it from ukrainan regulars or by generous gift from their grandmaster. So they rush their new toy into scenery, swing the bloody red rockets on the next plane passing by – “oh theres something to shoot at, travels at 10km alt, from west to east at approx. something over 950 km/h… (to the direction of RUSSIA) – well that MUST be some UKRAINAN MILITARY TRANSPORT (makes perfect sense)”. so they fired off their rocket, put on their masks (or never took them off) and stalked their site of glory. looking for loot and plunder, proudly presenting the pet toys of ther victims as trophy.

          That’s at least the most likely version of what happened if you believe what we get indoctrinated by our media, day by day….

          What ever happened… the biggest shame is what all those in power in the west are doing. Don’t get me wrong. I’m no friend of putin, also am I not happy about the state of mind in wich russia currently is as a whole, not to mention the sad political situation in the ukraine in wich all parties share their degree of guilt. But still, when I see what happens in the west it makes me shiver… instead of helping the russians to find confidence in plurality and TRUE democracy, we bring them proof for their worst fears of what ever perill they sensed comming from the west. And – last but not least – while we force the russians to rally around their “strong man”, we ourselves currently get a taste what “guided Democracy” might feel like…

          Cheers all and keep your eyes open.

        • El_Gordo71 said, on August 6, 2014 at 3:12 pm


  15. […] Airlines Flight 17—a Ukrainian SU-25—couldn’t actually reach that particular altitude and doesn’t have the weaponry onboard capable of taking down a plane 10,000 feet further […]

  16. […] Flight 17–a Ukrainian SU-25–couldn’t actually reach that particular altitude and doesn’t have the weaponry onboard capable of taking down a plane 10,000 feet further […]

  17. […] Flight 17–a Ukrainian SU-25–couldn’t actually reach that particular altitude and doesn’t have the weaponry onboard capable of taking down a plane 10,000 feet further […]

  18. Alex85 said, on July 24, 2014 at 1:10 pm

    Hi Scott, very interesting artcle. One thing I want to comment on:

    “If you want to believe the crackpot idea that Ukrainian government were a bunch of sinister schemers who shot down MH17 on purpose, an Su-25 is pretty much the worst armed military aircraft you can imagine for such a task. The Ukrainian air force has a dozen Su-27s and two-dozen Mig-29s perfectly capable of intercepting and shooting down a 777”

    SU-25’s have been routinely used to attack rebels in the area so presence of such jet would raise no suspicions. Use of Su27s or MiG29s might imply there was something to intercept (the 777). After all, taking down a 777 with a Su-25 is indeed very uncomfortable, but not impossible.

    • Scott Locklin said, on July 24, 2014 at 4:51 pm

      It would be a lot easier to move a rocket launcher into the region and shoot it down with that, attempting to blame it on the Donetsk bunch, wouldn’t it? For example, you wouldn’t be able to see it from radar or from a several mile radius the way you would an Su-25.

  19. […] 17 — a Ukrainian SU-25 — couldn’t actually reach that particular altitude and doesn’t have the weaponry onboard capable of taking down a plane 10,000 feet further […]

  20. […] Flight 17 — a Ukrainian SU-25 — couldn't actually reach that particular altitude and doesn't have the weaponry onboard capable of taking down a plane 10,000 feet further […]

  21. […] — a Ukrainian SU-25 — couldn’t actually reach that particular altitude and doesn’t have the weaponry onboard capable of taking down a plane 10,000 feet further […]

  22. Ukraine - Seite 39 said, on July 24, 2014 at 4:47 pm

    […] […]

  23. Herela Cyng said, on July 24, 2014 at 8:18 pm

    Very nice article. First, I`ve to say sorry cause my english isn`t really good. I just wanted to provide some infos.
    I`ve notices there is alway a discussion if it was a Su-25/Su-25-k/Su-25-t and so on.
    It could only be an Su-25/KA/KB. The SU-25-T wasn`t produced that much. (Only later as su-25-scorpion).
    The service Ceiling of all this Airplanes (except the T) is 7,000m but they can fly much higher (like the Mig- 25 has a service ceiling of 22.000m but holds the record for highest Airplane with 37.650m ). Which means all the plains called Su-25 can go on 10.000m, but did they have to do? No, cause the r60 and the k30 Missile have a range of 7-11Km (flying with mach 2,5). The Kylon-laser System has a Range of 5km. You only habe to be in this range. So flying 3km below them is no problem.
    I don`t want to say..that that says it must have been a Su-25. U`re definitly right about the speed problem, but you don`t have to chase something if you know where its going.
    The last point are the weapons. and shure a Wympel r-60 isn`t build to take down large Plains. But it is an “all aspects” weapon….so hitting the right point it could do the job. It`s still unlikely but not impossibale.

    • Tel said, on August 7, 2014 at 11:22 am

      But it has to fit the observed damage seen in the wreckage.

      The cockpit area was very badly damaged, something bigger than an “aphid” 6lb explosive caused that damage. As mentioned above, it is possible than the “aphid” just winged the 777 and the autocannon finished it off but that scenario would require at least one of the Su-25’s to get pretty close and the Russian radar indicated otherwise. Not that the Russians are 100% trustworthy by any means but why would they distort the picture if their radar indicated the Su-25’s were very close?

  24. MikeC said, on July 24, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    The 23,000 feet service ceiling of the Su-25 is achieved WHEN IT IS CARRY NO WEAPONS! When it is carrying a full load the service ceiling is only 17,000 feet. Certainly aircraft can “zoom climb” higher using kinetic energy for altitude – but as far as aircraft go the Su-25 doesn’t have much kinetic energy – it is slow.

    and without major modifications to its wings and/or engines there is no prospect of it getting any better.

    The Russian radar returns showing het 2nd plot are consistent with falling debris IMO – the 2nd plot only appears once MH17 starts behaving erratically – presumably after it is hit. The 2nd plot moves almost nowhere horizontally – as if it is falling almost vertically. And lastly the Russians say they monitored the 2nd plot for 4 minutes – which gives about 8250 ft per minute descent, or about 100 mph – which seems very plausible as the terminal velocity of a piece of relatively light and non-aerodynamic wreckage.

    • Björn said, on July 28, 2014 at 3:31 am

      Interesting. I was wondering how the ATC radars would react to pieces falling off the airplane. A drop in speed from 893 km/hr to 593 k/hr implies more than shrapnel holes in the fuselage – that’s a major change in aerodynamic shape. But the “MAC17” is tracked for another 90 seconds after the “abrupt speed change” event, as the translator put it, then disappeared below the 5000 meter detection floor. It’s speed was tracked from 593 km/hr down to 202 km/hr as it dropped out of sight of the radar. The other “military aircraft” was mentioned to have an airspeed of 200 km/hr when it was first detected (could it have been a separated wing, detected as an unknown aircraft, and drifting further and further from the main damaged plane? You see the two icons separate a bit as the main plane continues into rebel territory while falling) At 20:30, the MAC17 disappears, and the other “detected aircraft” is still visible to the Russian radar. Could a wing get into some lazy loop as it falls to the ground ? As the presentation of radar data concludes (at 22:31 in the video I mention below) this “circling aircraft” is still visible to radar. A wing floating down, above 5000 meters still, two minutes after the main damaged airplane fell below 5000 meters? I wouldn’t think so.

      The translator also said about this supposed “military aircraft” at about 21:50 in the video: “The further aircraft flight properties changes on its route testifies to the fact that it is now flying in the area of Boeing crash and is monitoring the situation.” It would be nice for Investigators to be able to pore over this data. But all I read about the Investigators is that they wish it was safer at the crash site, they won’t go – while family of victims go to the crash site, sit on wreckage, take photos, mourn… And the Kiev government attacks the rebels mere miles away, so the crash site is not safe.

      It would be even nicer if the Boryspil Airport in Kiev would show their radar and voice communications data to the Public at all, and to the investigators in full detail. Hopefully the UK will one day soon release the Cockpit Voice Recorder data, since I doubt Kiev will ever show any hard data to anyone – SBU (counterintelligence) already grabbed it.

      • Brendan said, on July 28, 2014 at 8:05 am

        I originaly wondered if a part broken off from the 777 could have been mistaken for a separate aircraft. The problem with that is that that the Russians say that the second object was ascending from 5000m (the minimum height for it to be detected by radar) after the 777 was hit. I couldn’t see any data for altitude for either plane in the presentation, though.

  25. Herela Cyng said, on July 24, 2014 at 10:02 pm

    Sure. And lets agree on that: it was only carrieng Air-to-air weapons..so it could reach..well, lets say 20,000feet….so, an airplane would still be in the range of the rockets carried by a SU-25.
    Don`t get me wrong i don`t say it was this guy or this guy….just about the facts (and having no problems if you proofe me wrong).
    It`s just…you don`t have to be on se same high as the target.

  26. Paper Tiger said, on July 26, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    I don’t think the Russians are really implying that the SU-25 was the one to bring down the 777. If you listen to the report, they mention that the aircraft was at *almost* the same altitude at the same time as the 777 when they observed it on radar; however, it is important to note that the aircraft did not even show up on radar until at least a minute after the 777 began to rapidly lose speed, and was ascending towards the 777 from a distance of 3-5 kilometers. Before this time, the radar was unable to pick it up, as it was flying below 5000 meters. Therefore, one can logically assume that the point that the two planes would have crossed trajectories would not have been at the initial 33,000 ft. elevation, but at a lower elevation, as the 777 had already been in rapid deceleration for one full minute before the unidentified aircraft even crossed 5000 meters, and it would still have had to make up the 3-5 kilometer distance to the plane, while the 777 would have continued to fall.

    What they said was that, for a 4-minute time period (starting one full minute after the 777 had already begun to lose speed), they observed an unidentified aircraft that was ascending towards the plane at the scene of the crash site and appeared to be flying around the site *monitoring the situation*.They did a brief rundown of its specs and its *capability* to destroy a target; however, the report seems to mostly be focused around the Buk anti-aircraft missiles being the source of the shoot-down. The only thing really implied about the jet was that it was monitoring the crash site, and the reason they seem to have a problem with this is because they were told by the Ukrainian government on the day of the crash that no military aircraft was in the region.

    I think this whole nonsense of implying that the Russians are trying to blame it on the SU-25 defies listening to what the Russians actually said. They really said nothing of the sort, and the 10,000 absolute ceiling they mentioned was not incorrect.

    • Paper Tiger said, on July 26, 2014 at 9:46 pm

      They also said that it was a “purposed” SU-25, but they were unable to determine the characteristics as it was likely that it had no secondary deduction system.

      So they are not even saying with certainty that it was an SU-25. That’s why they’re asking the question: why was there a military aircraft in the area when the Ukrainian government told them there wasn’t.

      • Björn said, on July 27, 2014 at 7:49 am

        “Are you actually asserting an aircraft which has a service ceiling of 7000 meters, and with a max speed which is lower than that of a 777 could be used to intercept a 777 at 10000 meters? Because if you’re asserting this, you need a lesson in trigonometry at the very least.”

        This is irrelevant – it assumes the Su-25 is chasing the jet from behind, at 10,000 meters altitude – an altitude it can’t attain, at a maximum speed (Mach 0.8) slower than the Boeing’s (Mach 0.89).

        The critical fact here is that – IF Kiev had planned a shootdown (just assume that for a moment, to consider how that affects the situation) – a military aircraft would know the exact flight path of the MH17. This is no WWII dogfight of a determined enemy pilot trying to get away. This would be an ambush – knowing where the target would be, and exactly when. Climb to 5000m in front of MH17 at the proper time, shoot the two R-60 missiles with proximity fuses from in front of MH17, let the missiles climb and do the rest. I could ambush the Shanghai Maglev train going 430 km/hr, on foot, if I jogged over to where it WOULD be, and shot a gun at the correct moment. My foot speed, and the Su-25 speed and altitude, would not be an issue – only the timing of the ambush.

        The author has a good point – the R-60’s are small. Could two hits bring down a 777 ? That’s the key point in an “Su-25 shot down MH17” scenario under consideration, not the speed or altitude of the Su-25.

        But the main point that Igor Makushev of Russia’s Defence Ministry made in that news conference was that he called out the Kiev government for lying about not having any planes flying in that area at the time of the shootdown. Why doesn’t Kiev release it’s ATC radar data to disprove the Russians, if they can? If Kiev would lie about that – and get caught red handed – what other things have they been lying about ? Not having a Buk-M2 SA-17 close to the border of “rebel held territory” that can shoot farther than an SA-11, so could have shot down MH17 and let it crash well within rebel territory ? (look at the Russian news conference – after the Boeing 777 abruptly slowed from 893 km/hr to 593 km/hr – lost its aerodynamic shape – it was tracked on Russian radar for ANOTHER 90 seconds – slowing further, falling, farther and farther into rebel territory.
        600 mph means a mile every 6 seconds – and the plane would fall for several minutes after being shot, going further and further into rebel territory (but slowing, to 202 km/hr right before falling below the 5000 meter radar detection floor).

        • Brendan said, on July 27, 2014 at 7:45 pm

          Where did you see the figures of 893 and 593 km/hr? The press conference video I saw only said that the velocity had dropped to 200 km/hr when the second plane appeared.

          • Björn said, on July 28, 2014 at 12:40 am

            The press conference actually said, at 19:22 – “At 5 hours 21 minutes 35 seconds pm, with a aircraft speed of 200 km/hr at the point of Boeing crash, there is new mark of an aircraft to be seen.” That is the supposed Ukrainian military aircraft, circling the area of the shooting. They see both aircraft briefly, the new one, and the Malaysian airliner slowing down – it was going about 363 km/hr as the second aircraft came into view.

            I watched the Russian news conference here, at 720p HiDef:

            Defence Ministry: Presenting Video of Air Traffic Control Movements (second part of conference):

            At 18:46 into the video, the English translator says: “At 5 hours 20 minutes PM at a distance of 51 kilometers from Russian Federation state boundary, at a azimuth of 300 deg, the aircraft started to lose it’s speed abruptly,
            which is quite distinctively to be seen on the table of aircraft characteristics.” The pointer circles the km/hr airspeed figures in the ATC rectangle for the MAC17.

            The rectangular box with “MAC17” is the ATC information for the Malaysian airline. The bottom line is the aircraft speed, in km/hr – at the point of “abrupt speed loss”, that value goes from 893 # (their symbol in the rectangle) to 593 # in about 1 second. BAM. You can’t lose all forward momentum because of a missile strike, but once you lose aerodynamic shape, you get much more wind resistance. You can continue watching this damaged airplane for another 90 seconds on the ATC video – I timed it. The radar tracked airspeed goes from 893 -> 593 when hit (that’s 554.88 mph to 368.47 mph), then slowly drops to 202 km/hr (125.52 mph) when radar can no longer track it – and somewhere else in the conference they mention the radar at the Russian border can only see above 5000 meters at that plane location.
            The pattern of the speed loss over 107 seconds might give some plane experts clues on the extent of the missile damage – they showed the time stamp on the video presentation (each second) and the tracked MAC17 airspeed (563, 463,363,323,319,282,263,248,239,226,220,211,207,206,202, then poof – off the radar).

            Keep in mind if the plane was shot from a Buk to the west, in government controlled territory, it would continue traveling farther into rebel held territory to the east for the entire time of falling to the ground. It doesn’t fall straight down – but it is slowed by the increased wind resistance. So for a Buk-2 SA-17 of range 50 km, add another 14.5 km for falling down at an average forward-velocity of only 150 mph for 3.6 minutes… Hrabove village is 61.5 km from “government controlled territory”. Just saying – MH17 could have been shot down from the border of government controlled territory. Who says it was an SA-11 ? Some evidence that was never shown.

            Too bad the Ukrainian SBU (CIA-equivalent) confiscated all the Air Traffic Data out of Kiev right after the shoot down. One has to wonder – what are they hiding ? Kiev ATC data would also have voice communications with the Malaysian airliner right before they were hit – if the flight crew mentioned any Ukrainian military planes, like Russia claims they saw with radar, the fledgling, struggling Kiev government would be exposed to the world as liars caught red-handed:

            As it happened: Reaction to MH17 Malaysia Airlines plane crash in Ukraine
            15:29: Ukraine’s SBU security service has confiscated recordings of conversations between Ukrainian air traffic control officers and the crew of the doomed airliner, a source in Kiev has told Interfax news agency.

            • Brendan said, on July 28, 2014 at 6:52 am

              Thanks. So the speed is the bottom number in the box. It dropped very dramataticly – by half within a couple of seconds. Hopefully the flight recorders will give a much clearer picture.

              The Kiev government is certainly acting as if it has something to hide by still withholding factual data and recordings. Contrast that with how quickly released recordings that are supposed to prove rebel involvement,
              but none of that stands up to scrutiny. It’s the same with the Americans who won’t make available satellite images of the crash area but yesterday they presented a satellite picture as evidence that Russia fired artillery across the border.

        • Paper Tiger said, on July 28, 2014 at 4:21 pm

          How about an upgraded Canadian CF-18 Hornet? Could that shoot down a 777? I’m asking for a very relevant reason – is it possible?

    • Brendan said, on July 27, 2014 at 7:26 pm

      I had assumed that they were saying the 3 to 5 km was the minimum horizontal distance between the two planes. You seem to be saying that it was the vertical distance between them when the second plane appeared. The video doesn’t make it clear, it just shows the SU-25 (or whatever it was) suddenly appearing
      and the commentetator says it was ascending while the 777 was losing speed.

      You’re right anyway that the main focus of the presentation was on the BUK launchers and radars but
      I think they’re suggesting the possibility of a strike from an SU-25 when they say that it can strike a target at 12 km.

      I haven’t seen much comment on the finding of the cockpit section and the “machine gun like” scrapnel holes in it. One commentator said it was consistent with a BUK missile strike but I wonder if it was possible for an air to air missile to cause them?

      • Björn said, on July 28, 2014 at 1:05 am

        Well, the Russians are definitely saying they saw a military aircraft (climbed above 5000 meters) right at the point of the “abrupt speed loss”, 18 seconds after the Malaysian airline was hit by something. Since the government in Kiev denies having any aircraft active in the area, and one is seen flying around to watch the fall and the crash – that would mean Kiev is lying. If they are lying, and they watched the fall and crash, and confiscated the ATC data right after the crash – then let’s just speculate what they could have done, if they wanted to. (Leaving aside the more complicated question “Why would they try such a covert op ?”)

        If an R-60 is too small to take down a 777, how about 2 ? How about 4, or 6 ? Three Su-25’s could fire just below 5000 meters, and would never be seen by Russian radar (but would be seen by Kiev radar). An ambushed airliner flying 5 km overhead would easily be reachable by an R-60 which has a definite kill range of 5 km, and a pretty good kill range of 12 km, and a max altitude of 20,000 meters. Six R-60’s ? Probably a definite kill for a thin aluminum skinned, mileage optimized 777. Why would one rise above 5000 meters to get a visual on the airliner and circle to watch it crash ? Maybe there had to be no doubt it was going down. Quite the risky covert op. But the new Kiev government is desperate to get NATO angry at Russia – notice the entire government just resigned. Things are not going well for the coup government. They keep trying to prove Russia is attacking them across the border, supplying the rebels with heavy weapons (how many people know eastern Ukraine is a manufacturing center for many Russian weapon systems?) , and telling civilians the rebels are attacking you with rockets, not us – the rebels are trying to make us look bad, they lie. Getting NATO actively involved might be the only way the Ukraine billionaires survive their coup.

        • Brendan said, on July 28, 2014 at 6:56 am

          I’d go more for the simple cock-up theory than one involving attacks by multiple fighter jets. It’s more likely that the Ukranian army was playing war games like in 2001 when they shot down a civilian Russian Tu-154.

          Of course it’s possible that the rebels shot down the 777 but the weight of all the evidence (not just accusations and propaganda) seems to support the case against the Urainian army.

  27. franksz said, on July 27, 2014 at 6:31 pm

    Why did the MH17 slow down to almost 200km?

    • franksz said, on July 27, 2014 at 6:31 pm

      sorry I mean 200kmh

    • Brendan said, on July 27, 2014 at 7:58 pm

      Like Björn’s post above says, it lost its aerodynamic shape after being hit. It was possibly spinning around in the air at that time. Its normal cruising speed is around 900 km/hr so It wasn’t that the pilot took his foot off the gas.

      • franksz said, on July 27, 2014 at 9:01 pm

        Is this consistent with explosive decompression?

        • franksz said, on July 27, 2014 at 9:06 pm

          Again, sorry, I mean why one radar target @ 200kmh not multiple?

          • Chris Devitt said, on July 27, 2014 at 11:46 pm

            @ Franksz. If one aircraft deliberately places itself between another plane and the radar, only one target shows.

          • Björn said, on July 28, 2014 at 2:30 am

            There were two radar targets right in the shootdown area for awhile. Look at the video above at 20:33 – that’s when the MAC17 icon for that plane disappears, and the icon for the military aircraft stays (an unlabeled circle, because ATC doesn’t know the flight number or plane type). The unknown aircraft stays in the area of the shootdown, while the “CNA351” airplane flies right by on their way to the Russian border, and the Air India airliner flies to the west, north of the crash area.

  28. Paper Tiger said, on July 28, 2014 at 4:19 pm

    I have a very relevant question based on some info I’ve stumbled across, so bear with me on this:

    Hypothetically, could an upgraded Canadian CF-18 Hornet shoot down a 777 with air-to-air missiles? Service ceiling is listed as 15,000 meters.

    • Scott Locklin said, on July 28, 2014 at 4:23 pm

      Not if it was in Canada.

      • Paper Tiger said, on July 28, 2014 at 4:25 pm

        What if it wasn’t in Canada? If one was in the area, is it possible that a Hornet could shoot down a 777?

        • Scott Locklin said, on July 28, 2014 at 4:46 pm

          Madame president should consult a map, methinks. Those CF-18s are about 1000km away from the 777 crash site, and, no, a CF-18 can’t shoot down something 1000km away. They might as well be in Canada for all their relevance. FWIIW, 1000km is also outside a CF-18’s combat radius. And yes, the Russians would have seen a CF-18 on their radar if it was within range of a 777.

          Please stop spamming up the comments with irrelevancies.

          • Paper Tiger said, on July 28, 2014 at 4:48 pm

            Excuse me? It says that they were supposed to be doing training exercises IN Ukraine, ON the border of Russia. How is that far away or irrelevant?

            • Scott Locklin said, on July 28, 2014 at 4:57 pm

              The aircraft are stationed in Romania and Lithuania to reassure the NATO allies. They are not in Ukrainian airspace, and none of the articles you have linked to (yes, I read every one of them: thank you for wasting my time) has stated that they ever have been.
              Romania, FWIIW, since you can’t be bothered to look at a goddamned map, is on the opposite side of Ukraine from Donetsk and the Russian border. It’s a greater than 24 hour train ride, and they have excellent trains. Ukraine is big.

              And, since I know you’re not going to look at a map, Lithuania doesn’t even share a border with Ukraine; it’s 1500km away, and the planes would have to fly over goddamned Belarus or Russia to get to Donetsk.

              • Paper Tiger said, on July 28, 2014 at 5:02 pm

                I know where Romania is. So what about the fact that NATO was conducting war games in the Black Sea? (BREEZE 2014) We had US Navy ships in the vicinity, and don’t have better satellite that what we’ve released? It seems to me that we know exactly what happened, but for some reason, we’re trying to cover something up.

                Your hostility towards me is completely uncalled for, by the way.

                • Scott Locklin said, on July 28, 2014 at 5:14 pm

                  Yeah, we’re covering up the fact that NATO is conducting exercises in Romania … a thousand kilometers away, documented on hundreds of news outlets, because … well, I have no freaking clue what you’re attempting to imply here. Yes, NATO are being idiots. No, they didn’t shoot down the goddamned airliner.

                  “Everyone has a right to be stupid, but some people abuse the privilege” as a famous Georgian politician put it.

                  I’ve only banhammered one other idiot on my blog: you’re in danger of becoming the second one.

                  • Paper Tiger said, on July 28, 2014 at 5:28 pm

                    It was not just war games in Romania; it was an entire fleet of ships in the Black Sea. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to at least entertain the possibility that, for whatever reason, the Hornets were flying over separatist-controlled airspace and the separatists tried to shoot one down and ended up taking down the 777 instead.

                    I was merely wondering if a Hornet had the capability to shoot down a 777, in the possibility that maybe it was a training exercise gone wrong. Many of the eyewitnesses said they saw fighter jets, and also said they thought that the hit had come from in the air, not on the ground. It would also explain why the Russians picked up a military aircraft on radar.

                    You can ban me if you want, as I don’t feel my questions are at all inappropriate or irrelevant, yet you have been extremely hostile and rude towards me for no good reason, even implying that I’m stupid. You have the right to be stubborn and closed-minded, but it’s not exactly like this sort of thing would be completely unheard of. The attack on the USS Liberty and Operation Northwoods come to mind.

                    • Scott Locklin said, on July 28, 2014 at 5:36 pm

                      Considering you can’t be bothered to look at a fucking map and notice that there are and were no goddamned NATO airplanes anywhere near the downed 777: I don’t have to *imply* that you are stupid. You simply *are* stupid. The fact that you think you can argue that a CF-18 1000 kilometers from the downed plane is somehow relevant: not only are you a blockhead, you’re a willfull imbecile who is looking at be a pain in the ass. You do not have that right here. You certainly have no right for your imbecilities to be treated with anything but the galloping contempt they deserve.

                      If you don’t care for the fact that I discriminate against stupid people in the comments section of my blog, perhaps you should consider spreading your idiocy in places where it is encouraged. I suggest there may be a future for you with the US State Department.

  29. Björn said, on July 29, 2014 at 1:50 am

    If you want to believe the crackpot idea that Ukrainian government were a bunch of sinister schemers who shot down MH17 on purpose, an Su-25 is pretty much the worst armed military aircraft you can imagine for such a task. The Ukrainian air force has a dozen Su-27s and two-dozen Mig-29s perfectly capable of intercepting and shooting down a 777.

    The Russian news conference on MH17 data had two speakers: the first one was Andrey Kartapolov from Russia’s Defense Ministry, the second one was Igor Makushev Russia’s Defense Ministry, General Staff Air Force.
    The first one said “It is supposed that it was Su-25”.
    The second one kept referring to it as just a “military aircraft”.

    I don’t know if the radar return alone could distinguish an Su-25 from an Su-27. Maybe the first guy said in Russian “maybe it was an Su-25” because they are more common, and the English translator said “It is supposed that it was Su-25”.

    Anyway, just for thoroughness, I noticed:
    The Su-25SM (Stroyevoy Modernizirovannyi) is an “affordable” upgrade programme for the Su-25, conceived by the Russian Air Force (RuAF) in 2000.
    Su-25SM weapon suite has been expanded with the addition of the Vympel R-73 highly agile air-to-air missile

    The R-73 (developed to replace the earlier R-60 (AA-8 ‘Aphid’) weapon for short-range use by Soviet fighter aircraft. Work began in 1973, and the first missiles entered service in 1982) has a range of 20, 30 or 40 km (compared to the 5 to 12 km of the R-60) and a warhead of 7.4 kilograms (compared to the 3 kg of R-60).

    Two R-73 missiles would have 8.8 kg more explosives than two R-60’s. But they have infrared homing, so would probably target the engines, which doesn’t seem to be the case with MH17.

    If the “military aircraft” WAS an Su-27 as Scott said would be much better for shooting down an airliner (how much weight do we give to a translator’s “supposed” ?) that would allow the use of two R-77 missiles, with a warhead of 22.5 kg High Explosive fragmenting, a laser proximity fuse (so could target the cockpit shooting straight at an oncoming MH17 from 4.5 km height after flying out over rebel territory, supposedly out of reach of the rebel MANPADS that Kiev knew they had). They could choose any position for an ambush from 4.5 km altitude, especially if they already had plausible photos of Buks at known locations. The R-77 has operational ranges of 80 or 110 km (depends on version) and can reach 25 km altitude. Knowing the exact flight path of the MH17 that afternoon (forwarded from Kiev ATC), they could have ambushed it from anywhere over rebel territory, and with the big R-77, one or two would look like a Buk hit. Their “social media audio proof” that the rebels shot it down with a Buk was first dated July 16 – the day before the shootdown.

    I would definitely keep open the possibility that a coup government that came to power using violence, just 5 months ago, with various factions jockeying for power still, might have had some “rogue elements” that tried to carry out a covert ops to implicate the “terrorists” that they hate, and their protector, Russia. But follow the facts, as discovered.

    • Nemo said, on July 29, 2014 at 6:55 pm

      Latest news are that SU-25 pilot used cannon to shoot down the MH17…

      • Mucha Lucha said, on August 6, 2014 at 6:14 am

        That makes it even more implausible.

        A Su-25 ground attack plane would have trouble trying to catch a 777 at cruising speed and altitude, what more to down it with gunfire…

  30. […] guess what? Nope not likely. British Aviation Expert Says Russian MH17 Claims Highly Unlikely Can the Su-25 intercept and shoot down a 777? | Locklin on science I could post more links but I think I made my point. OH BTW your "expert" that old DDR […]

  31. su25 said, on July 30, 2014 at 6:38 am

    Afghan Rombus – Su-25 Frogfoot development and combat testing by Alexey Zakharov (Air Forces Monthly June 1996)
    “All the Rhombus team was apprehensive when the Su-25s first took-off with a full combat load. The strip was 7,540ft (2,300m) long and take-off was made during the high mid-day temperatures. The early version Su-17s based in Shindand lacked adequate power in the hot and high conditions. With each aircraft carrying two FAB-250 550lb high explosive bombs and two UB-32 rocket pods, the Su17s could not get airborne until almost at the end of the runway after which they made a sluggish climb out. The Su-25s lifted off approximately in the middle of the runway with a full load and, to the engineers’ delight, climbed quickly.”
    “The Su-25 was perfectly tailored to the needs of the Afghan War – easy to fly, effective in combat and with great survivability. During its time in Afghanistan the aircraft carried mainly free-falling bombs and unguided rockets, but it could also carry the AS-10 Karen and AS-14 Kedge laser-guided missiles. According to Sukhoi, of the 139 missiles launched by Su-25s since April 1986, 137 were direct hits. The aircraft’s manoeuvrability was particularly useful when operating over Afghanistan’s mountainous terrain. During the eight years of war Su-25s are believed to have clocked up 60,000 sorties – 23 aircraft were lost and eight pilots killed.”

    Wondering where you got the idea that “With full combat load, an Su-25 can only make it to 16,000 feet. This low combat ceiling was actually a problem in the Soviet-Afghanistan war; the hot air and the tall mountains made it less useful than it could have been.”?

  32. Brendan said, on July 30, 2014 at 6:41 am

    A German pilot claims that it couldn’t have been a surface to air missile.
    Here’s the original piece in German:
    He says that only the the cockpit area is badly damaged even though it is made from a particularily strong material.
    The SU 25 is equipped with a 30mm cannon Type GSch-302 /AO-17A, with 250 rounds with two types of shell. The tank type(?) shells has the power to penetrate solid armour and could go straight through the cockpit and slightly deformed through the other side. The other exploding fragmentation shells would explode in the cockpit as they are designed to do.The cannon would cause a rapid succession of explosions, each of which is enough to destroy a tank.

    • Scott Locklin said, on July 30, 2014 at 6:15 pm

      Someone mentioned it above. None of the pictures show what he says it shows. The alleged “German aviation expert” according to the first link is Bernd Biederman, yet in the second link, it is written by someone named “Peter Haisenko,” who is not an an aviation expert, but a loony conspiracy theorist who thinks American Banks are the root of all evil.

      It boggles me that people mindlessly parrot this sort of rot without doing the most basic of checks. Why is it more intellectually satisfying to concoct elaborate conspiracy theories, based on the rantings of lunatics, than it is to check facts? I mean, the pictures are right there in front of you, and they do not show what he says they show.

      • Nemo said, on July 30, 2014 at 6:18 pm

        I have mentioned it above but I have not seen this article with “german experts”…though it might be that my sources used their “expertise”…

      • Brendan said, on July 30, 2014 at 6:48 pm

        Bernd Biederman is someone else who says that an SAM should have caused the MH17 to go on fire but
        there don’t seem to be any facts available to back up that theory.

        Peter Haisenko is a civilian airline pilot and he seems to be a bit of a conspiract theorist and it’s the British as much as anyone else that he blames for all the world’s problems.

        He does have an interesting theory however in that he’s saying that the SU-25 attacked the airliner with
        air-to-ground missiles designed for hitting tanks rather than R60 air-to-air missiles that the Russians mention. One problem with that is that the SU-25 was supposed to be below radar range (5000m or half the altitude of the MH17) when the MH17 was hit and started to lose speed. It would be a lot harder – I’d guess impossible – to strike a target thousands of meters above you compared to one either straight in front of you or on the ground below.

      • su25 said, on July 30, 2014 at 7:43 pm

        Col. (ret) Biedermann was CO in the NVA air defence, and teached AA missile defence at the military academy, so he is an expert in soviet/russian SAMs, not aviation. He claims a SAM hit would instantly ignite the airplane due to the heat generated by friction from high kinetic energy shrapnels penetrating the aircraft, which didn’t happen. The few fires were ignited just after the crash, by hot airplane parts coming in contact with flammable materials. He concludes that a SAM hit can be discarded with high probability.
        Haisenko was a commercial pilot for 30 years, so he should know more about airliners than some armchair expert. Brendan already has mentioned his theory for explaining the cockpit damage.

        • Scott Locklin said, on July 30, 2014 at 8:34 pm

          Links, or it never happened. You’ve so far provided nothing but obfuscation and nonsense here. It is time you provided something other than “bald assertions from someone posting from Romania who obviously believes in crazy conspiracy theories.”

          “Instantly ignite the airplane” is mendacious bullshit; I don’t care if he invented the SAM himself -that is total nonsense. We know what SAM shrapnel damage looks like. There are numerous photos available on the internet of Gary Powers wrecked U-2; it is available in a Moscow museum for photography. It looks a lot like MH17. There was no “instant ignition” there either, and plenty of holes that look exactly like the photos of MH17.

          If the alleged Colonel was working for the East German air force, that hardly makes him an unbiased source of information. Thus far, nobody has provided any link to this alleged person saying anything.

          • Iknow said, on July 31, 2014 at 7:14 pm


            Are u about winning the argument or about the truth? MH17 looks nothing like that U2, look at those shrapnel irregularities (holes in U2) and those on MH17, BIG DIFFERENCE. I am not pointing at anything because it could be anything that hit that plane but it was bad example!

            • Scott Locklin said, on August 2, 2014 at 12:03 pm

              I did look at them: the U2 has no obvious signs of “instantaneous fire” which is what the alleged expert was asserting. It also has plenty of holes of various shapes and sizes in it; exactly like MH17. Unless you are asserting an Su-25 shot down the U2, well, that’s pretty strong evidence for SAM fire.

    • Mucha Lucha said, on August 6, 2014 at 6:19 am

      So now they are saying that it was downed with 30mm cannon fire from a Su-25 ground attack plane??

      The Su-25 has an operational altitude & speed inferior to that of a crusing 777, and now we are told that a Ukrainian Su-25 pilot managed to shoot down one with well-aimed cannon fire to the cockpit area??

      Is the pilot’s name Luke Skywalkerchenko?

    • Havar Eriksen said, on September 6, 2014 at 3:44 pm

      I am no avionics expert, but after being an army weapons techinician for over 20 years I do have alot of experiance with explosive munitons. The armour piercing rounds would have punched a series of nice, neat round holes at the entry point, and exit holes that were a bit bigger and ragged with the edges turned in the projectiles direction of travel. Those projectiles are sturdy and wouldn’t break apart, and with high mass/relative low speed for a kinetic weapon, the projectile would not meet enough resistance in such a plane to tumble in flight. The fragmentation rounds would also punch neat, round holes in the outer skin. The forward momentum of the round and the ingiting process in the fuze would cause it to detonate inside the aircraft. The fragments from the detonation would go mostly in a 90-120 degree arc along the projectiles trajectory, somewhat dependant on the angle the projectile hits the target at. This is not the kind of damage we see on the images of the debree at the crash site. While there are some neat round holes, there are lots of uneven holes with their edges turned inward, which makes them caused by internal detonation unlikely.

      And no, one such fragmentation can not destroy a tank. Do not confuse a 30mm projectile filled with 50 gram of non directional explosive with a 100-120mm HEAT directional charge of 1.5 kg, which is what it takes to knock out modern tanks. The fragmentation rounds are used primarely against soft skinned targets, unarmoured cars, fuel tanks, radar installations and such. Armoured targets are engaged with the armour piercing rounds, hence the name. However, one procetile is not enough to penetrate. A string of fire is needed, so the rounds can weaken the armour plating intil some rounds finally punch through. Still, on main battle tanks it’s still not enough to penetrate, so the stream of projectile destroys everything that’s not part of the armour on the outside, Periscopes, sights vivion blocks, hatches, external fuel tanks. Depending on the make and model of the tank, they can destroy the engine that’s usually placed behind the turrett.

      Taking into account that SU-25 is a ground support plane, it’s targeting system is not made for air to air engagements. For it to hit a rapidly moving target 3-5 km away, he would need a sofisticated targeting system with a dedicated onboard air-to air tracking radar. Even interceptor fighters use cannon only when they’re too close for missiles. For an SU-25 to get multiple hits on such a target, he would need to either pass it alot closer, or ride along side it and rake it sideways. That’s not what the supposed radar image shows, and not what the wreckage looks like. Besides, such an aerial engagement would have given the pilots time to radio in their situation, assuming they were not shot dead on the first string of fire.

      Now I want to pose a question: Do anyone in this audience know exactly how the warheads of the SAMs and AAMs discussed in this thread are made up? I know that alot of HE warheads used in ground warfare have premanufactured fragments molded into the casing. Thus you have HE at the core, and around that you have a layer of projectiles, and the outer casing outside of that. When the HE detonates, the outer casing bursts and the projectiles fly in all directions, showering any target within it’s effective radius with profectiles and fragments from the casing. Those ready made projectiles are often in the shape of ball bearings, and punch neat, round holes in the target. The only AAM I have experiance with, is the R-70. And that system uses such a warhead with a proximerty fuse and ball bearings around the explosive. Are the russian built SAMs and AAMs built in the same way? If so, that would explain the presence of round holes in the fuselage. There would still be alot of fragments that were not round, like pieces of the casing, engine parts, stabilising fins etc. to leave more ragged and nonuniform holes. As for the notion of the airplane instantaneously bursting into flames because of the friction of the fragments, I am very sceptical. It surely doesn’t happen with ground targets riddled with shrapnel, and I don’t see why an airplane would be any different. Sure, it carries alot of fuel, but as I understand it, airplane fuel is kerosene based and not that flammable. Once it burns, it burns very hot, but it takes more to set it off than say, gasoline.

      • Havar Eriksen said, on September 6, 2014 at 4:09 pm

        OK, links or it didn’t happen. Here are explanation and specs on the RBS 70. The fragmentation pattern match pretty well with what we see on MH17, in my eyes. http://defence.pk/threads/pa-rbs-70.12972/

  33. Brendan said, on July 30, 2014 at 7:15 am

    Why is my comment not being shown?

  34. YouPi said, on July 31, 2014 at 11:19 pm

    THE NATIONAL | Jul 28, 2014 | 8:19
    OSCE monitor on MH17 disaster
    ‘There have been two or three fuselages that have been really pop? marked…. gun fire, very, very strong machine gunfire that has left these unique marks that we haven’t seen anywhere else. We were also asked for example if we have seen any samples of missile, no we haven’t is the answer… ‘
    says Michael Bociurkiw, OSCE

    • Brendan said, on August 1, 2014 at 7:53 am

      Look at the holes at around 6:10 in the video. They’re all about the same size and many look almost perfectly round.

      • franksz said, on August 1, 2014 at 8:22 am

        It would be my assumption too. Given everything that has been going on recently…the excessive propaganda, the ‘leaks’ from unidentified ‘European investigators’ supporting the missile theory, the anti-Russian agitprop, the total lack of news on blackbox data or voice recorder data, the lack of news on Ukrainian atc recordings, and the simple explanation that Malaysian airlines just looks like a Russian plane from a distance. The most likely explanation is that Kiev is hiding the fact that some faction in their splintered cabal was responsible for downing MH17. This is will come out I think, despite the recent attempts by Kiev to push the war zone back into the crash site, and when it does it will be a final nail in the coffin for Western credibility.

  35. de^mol said, on August 1, 2014 at 9:40 am

    This is the smoking gun:

    The damage around the cockpit is indicative, but the combination with the left wing damage point AT the cockpit complete the puzzle pieces. The plain is definitely shot by a gun from another airplane…

    • Pavel said, on August 1, 2014 at 1:08 pm

      I made this to add you ещ post. This is right side cockpit window frame, and i used my paint skills to mark where (shells or fragments) come from.

      • Havar Eriksen said, on September 6, 2014 at 3:55 pm

        This pic is interesting. We see round uniform holes quite evenly placed. We also see alot of smaller perfectly round holes. My guess is that these holes are rivet holes. Some explosive force may have caused the material around the rivets to break and the rivets having blown out, leaving nice, neat holes in the fuselage. There are also alot of small specs on it. I would assume that that is rivets that didn’t pop out.

    • Scott Locklin said, on August 2, 2014 at 11:57 am

      Rubbish. That doesn’t even pass the sniff test.

    • YouPi said, on August 3, 2014 at 3:01 pm

      What about this video?
      Starting here:

      This big part looks like next to the left front cockpit!
      The door to the passenger’s is open …
      Was that causing a ‘massive explosive decompression’ …
      ripping the 777 to pieces?
      Is his a hint by the Russians?

  36. Dave said, on August 1, 2014 at 10:44 am

    The su-25 was tracking underneath MH17 to avoid radar detection and deliver a payload on Donetsk. It’s the only reasonable explanation that doesn’t buy into conspiracies. What the rebels did under the circumstances we can only guess but it would seem a tragic error. Apparently the Ukrainians asked the US for electronic jammers a week before it happened, however were probably declined as America didn’t want to see the war escalate. For the same reason Russia probably supplied BUK systems to deter the Ukrainians from taking the war to the air as well. In short Washington underestimated just how far the Ukrainians would go to take back the East. And yeah Vicky Nuland is one of the most shite politicians the States has had in some time and John Kerry is an incompetent fuck. The lessons from the past America learnt from dealing with the Soviets has fallen on deaf ears with the Obama administration and they deserve a kick up the ass.

    • franksz said, on August 1, 2014 at 11:34 am

      The Russians had it on radar though. Also, the locals actually *saw* the military plane following the MH17, as confirmed by journalists at the time. Finally, why did this supposed Su25 ascend toward the MH17 and break the radar cover, if it was not actually targeting the MH17?

      • Brendan said, on August 1, 2014 at 8:50 pm

        Dave, any reports about what ‘apparently’ or ‘probably’ happened are worthless unless there’s something to back them up. It doesn’t matter whether they come from the US, Ukraine, East Ukraine or Russia.

        Franksz, according to Russian radar data the MH17 had already suffered a dramatic loss in speed (after being struck, presumably) before the supposed Su25 ascended towards it. That doesn’t take away from the evidence of the holes in the aircraft that appear too circular to be schrapnel. We can speculate about what exactly happened but so far there doesn’t seem to be a straightforward explanation.

  37. Joe said, on August 2, 2014 at 9:28 am

    Mr. Locklin makes the following claims:

    Cannons: impossible.

    1) “The Su-25 was at minimum 10,000 feet below the 777. This means simply pointing the cannon at the 777 without stalling would have been a challenge.”

    Many contributors to this thread have pointed out that the true ceiling of the Su-25 is much, much higher. Especially if it is lightly loaded for a special mission.

    2) “The ballistic trajectory of the cannon fire would have made this worse. The Gsh-30-2 cannon fires a round which travels at ONLY 2800 feet per second, significantly lower than, say, the round fired by a 338 Lapua sniper rifle.”

    Excuse me? 2800 FPM is typical of Magnum rifle velocities.

    Here’s the Gsh-30 auto cannon…..

    The Gsh-30-2 is the Russian equivalent to the A-10 warthog cannon, which is also a 30mm cannon and has a velocity of 3200 FPM, not much more than 2800 FPM.

    Not sure what a Lapua sniper rifle has to do with anything…. FPM is not the primary criteria in aircraft cannon design. Kinetic energy, reliability and low weight are more important.

    3) Imagine trying to shoot down an airplane with a rifle, from 2-3 miles away using your eyeball, in a plane, at a ballistic angle.

    It’s NOT A RIFLE. It’s a 30mm, 3000 RPM auto cannon. It can take out main battle tanks, just like the A-10 cannon can.

    4) If the MH17 was somehow taken out by cannon fire, it will have obvious 30mm holes in the fuselage. None have been spotted so far.

    Wrong: And note the very high number of holes. Both going in, and going out, which tends to confirm the theory that there were two fighters.

    Mr. Locklin, Go back to your NSA/CIA masters.

    • Chris devit said, on August 2, 2014 at 10:26 am

      It does have obvious 30mm cannon holes in the cockpit, no one said for sure it was a SU 25.

    • Scott Locklin said, on August 2, 2014 at 11:32 am

      Velocity of the rounds fired by the Gsh-30-2 according to Wakipedia: “870 m/s (2,850 ft/s)”
      Velocity of the 338 Lapua sniper rifle: 2,710-3,000 ft/s

      I realize you probably never took calculus, but this means that the ballistics of the Gsh-30-2 are more or less identical with that of a 338 Lapua. It doesn’t matter how big the shells are (the ballistic coefficient of the Lapua is actually superior), or the fact that you call it a “cannon” instead of a rifle, or that the videos of the Gsh-30-2 in action are, like, totally awesome: if you try to hit something far away, modulo the drag of the 30mm projectile compared to a 338 (hint: the 338 has better aerodynamics), the drop per distance traveled is roughly the same. The drop, FWIIW, when fired at equal altitudes at a distance of 2 miles is about 1000 feet. Not counting shit like windage, mind you: there was at least 200mph worth of relative velocity between the two aircraft. It was also not at equal altitudes: the drop is MUCH greater at a differential of 10,000 feet or more. It is an impossible shot. If you’ve ever shot a goddamned gun or studied ballistics at any level, or even thrown a fucking rock once in your life, you’d know this. The gun is meant to be fired at short ranges, downward. It’s not made for air to air combat at long distances, and in fact, I defy you to come up with any example of *any* aircraft hitting another one with a cannon at 3 miles distance: I doubt as it has ever happened at any point in human history. Engagement at 1000 yards is plenty difficult, even in an aircraft designed to do it, let alone in a slow moving ground attack aircraft shooting at something which is at a minimum of 3000 yards above it, traveling 200mph slower, with a gunsite calibrated for shooting downward at a non-moving target.

      To further demonstrate that you are an imbecile who doesn’t know what he is talking about: the M-61 vulcan is designed for air to air combat. It shoots a 20mm round which travels at 3,450 fps. This is not “close” to 2,850 fps at all; its drop at 2 miles is only 1/2 of that of the round fired by the Gsh-30-2. The vulcan has a claimed range of 1 mile; with the correct air to air gunsites. It is much longer in air to air range than the Gsh-30-2. Hell, even the GAU-8 (which shoots a MUCH superior round to that of the Gsh-30-2) only has a 6 meter 80% circular probable at 1000 meters at a stationary target.

      As for you and the other idiots continued imbecilities about the flight envelope of the Su-25; the Russians were good enough to show us the radar signature in the above video; your assertions are irrelevant: it wasn’t at 10,000 meters. And it was in fact, only traveling at 400km/h. Nor was it traveling at an intercept trajectory to MH17. It wasn’t even vaguely pointed at MH17, let alone pointed in a direction where it could have taken a grazing shot across the wing and cockpit. The idea of using such a contraption to shoot down a 777 …. with cannons no less, is completely preposterous, and your continued assertions, despite the apparent lack of interest of the Russians in this idea, are ridiculous. I can think of a dozen simpler and far more effective ways (Buk missiles fired from the Ukraine side, for example; or, like, a Mig-29 or Su-27, or even a bomb in the goddamned airplane). I can think of 1000 more interesting and considerably more likely scenarios than shooting down a 777 with an Su-25. Flying saucers, miniature black holes, pterodactyls or meteors, for starters.

      As for those photos: thank you for reposting a bunch of photos showing exactly zero 30mm holes, though a whole lot of holes of all manner of shapes and sizes; kind of exactly what you’d expect from a SAM shrapnel blast.

      Sadly, no check is forthcoming from the American spooks: I only tell the truth. If it was up to them, I’d have to come up with some exotic theory about how Vlad Vladimirovich parachuted in and pressed the button on a Buk launcher while cackling maniacally and raping Obama’s pets, because Vlad Vladimirovich hates the gays; especially Dutch ones, and the plane was full of people who think about the gay plague. It’s about as believable as the scenario you and your fellow conspiratoid morons are touting here.

      • Mucha Lucha said, on August 6, 2014 at 6:25 am

        Don’t confuse them with facts and science. I actually had one conspiracy theorist tell me that the 767s that struck the WTC were equipped with forward firing flamethrowers.

  38. Juha-Matti Hakala said, on August 2, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    Caliber difference. Can you see those @mh17?

  39. Joe said, on August 3, 2014 at 6:12 am

    More gratuitous ad-hominems, eh?

    Truly ridiculous rant from Mr. Locklin –>>>

    “As for you and the other IDIOTS continued IMBECILITIES about the flight envelope of the Su-25; the Russians were good enough to show us the radar signature in the above video; YOUR ASSERTIONS ARE IRRELEVANT: it wasn’t at 10,000 meters. And it was in fact, only traveling at 400km/h. Nor was it traveling at an intercept trajectory to MH17. It wasn’t even vaguely pointed at MH17, let alone pointed in a direction where it could have taken a grazing shot across the wing and cockpit. The idea of using such a CONTRAPTION to shoot down a 777 …. with cannons no less, is COMPLETELY PREPOSTEROUS, and YOUR CONTINUED ASSERTIONS, despite the apparent lack of interest of the Russians in this idea, are RIDICULOUS.”

    Your parents never taught you any manners. Or maybe you were born with Literary Coprolalia. If so, I feel for you, it’s a devastating disease.

    Take a look at the Russian briefing again. At 12:50, they say SIX Ukrainian aircraft(S) approach the 777… from the FRONT. They turn towards the 777 at 10km, at a range of 2-5km. The briefer specifically states that Su-25 can reach 10km. Would 6 cannons firing level at an approaching 777 have a better chance of hitting than a single cannon firing from behind? What part of the 777 would receive the brunt of their fire? (Clue: it would not be the back end). ‘https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bNPInuSqfs#t=667’

    This photo clearly shows a series of ~ inch diameter holes (25+mm) along the bottom of the window frame. It’s possible they were produced by 30mm cannon fire.

    For the record, I never claimed the 777 was shot down by cannon fire. That’s another incorrect assumption on your part. I’m merely pointing out that you have not done your homework.

    Go back to your NSA/CIA handlers.

    • Scott Locklin said, on August 3, 2014 at 6:37 am

      Do you think I enjoy conversing with prevaricating blockheads? There are over 130 comments here: most of which are the same sorts of moronic assertions you have presented to the world.

      They said nothing about six ukrainian aircraft, they were referring to fixed-wing aircraft (my Russian is bad, but not that bad), and they did not approach the 777 “from the front.” They also very specifically stated that the single Su-25 was well out of cannon range (3-5km), and not at altitude. Retard.

      As for your assertions about my “CIA handlers” -you realize wordpress shows me your IP address, right? Not very bright posting such accusations from such a small municipality.

  40. […] Crackpots indeed. Can the Su-25 intercept and shoot down a 777? | Locklin on science […]

  41. Mark Snova said, on August 3, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    The ‘Donetsk Peoples Republic’ claimed to have downed a Ukrainian AN-26 transport plane at exactly the same time and place as MH17 – They even describe where the pane fell – again, matching that of MH17

    The Story was run by many Russian News Agencies for about 45 minutes – until the details came out


    So, is this SU-25 a piece of deception to draw attention from the ‘DNR’s’ mistake ?

    • Brendan said, on August 3, 2014 at 6:37 pm

      The message seems to back up the evidence of an SU-25, although it says that the ‘SU’ might have been shot down too:
      “There is also information about a second downed airplane, apparently an SU.”

      The rest of the message has been presented over and over again as a smoking gun that proves the rebels’ involvement in the shoot-down, but it does so such thing. Even if the message is authentic the writer could have just been saying what he assumed had happened and not what he knew had happened. Believing something does not necessarily make it true.

      It would be only natural for him to think that a big plane that had crashed was an AN-26 shot down by rebels. They had done the same thing not long before that in the same area.

      It would be a smoking gun alright if it could be shown that he knew about the missile launch and not just the crash, but there’s no reason to believe that.

    • Chris devit said, on August 3, 2014 at 9:10 pm

      Many of the recordings released by Kiev were edits stuck together, even from different days.

  42. Raymond Blohm said, on August 3, 2014 at 9:21 pm

    I was an aero engineer in USAF, and at Boeing on both military & commercial sides. The Su-25 could have taken down this 777. Not that it did, but that it definitely could have. Here is how:

    Summary: With proper vectoring, a Su-25 need not be quite as fast as a Boeing 777 in cruise. It just has to get to a missile-firing position. Since the 777 was not maneuvering, it would be simple to pre-calculate when to get in a certain spot in the sky below the 777. From there, it’s the missile that has the speed and altitude capability to hit the 777. (The R-60 is a very capable missile.) After the missile takes out an engine, both the 777’s max speed and its max altitude are well within the Su-25 fighter’s speed & altitude capabilities. Then, the Su-25 can show off its cannon power…


    Ukraine obtained 92 Su-25s of differing variants following the country’s independence in the wake of the break-up of the USSR. Currently, the Ukrainian Air Force operates approximately 60 Su-25, Su-25UBs, and Su-25UTGs…

    Specifications (Su-25/Su-25K, late production)
    Data from Jane’s All The World’s Aircraft 2003–2004

    Maximum speed: Mach 0.8 (975 km/h, 526 knots, 606 mph) at sea level
    Service ceiling: 7,000 m (22,965 ft) clean, 5,000 m (16,000 ft) with max weapons

    Guns: 1 × GSh-30-2 30mm cannon with 250 rounds

    Missiles: … K-13 (AA-2) or R-60 (AA-8) air-to-air missiles


    The Molniya (now Vympel) R-60 (NATO reporting name: AA-8 ‘Aphid’) is a lightweight air-to-air missile designed for use by Soviet fighter aircraft. It has been widely exported, and remains in service with the CIS and many other nations.

    Operational range: 8 km (5.0 mi)
    Flight altitude: 20,000 m (66,000 ft)
    Speed: Mach 2.7
    Guidance system: infrared homing
    Launch platform: … Su-25


    Russia recently published radar recordings, that confirm at least one Ukrainian Su-25 in close proximity to MH 017.

    “In close proximity” probably refers to horizontal distance, not vertical distance.

    On my « Reply #416 on: July 27, 2014, 03:25:56 PM » (p.21 of this Topic) it was stated:

    From a comment on Vineyardsaker:

    According to the colonel, at 16:19:45, a Ukrainian jet fighter targeted the Boeing with an air-to-air missile R-60. The missile damaged the right engine of the Boeing. The Boeing was hit, but still managed to stay in the air. However, in doing so, the Boeing turned 180 degrees to the left.

    The Boeing 777 was initially at 33,000 feet. The aircraft, therefore, was above the Su-25’s ceiling. (I am presuming the Su-25 was carrying only two R-60 air-to-air missiles, which are low drag. So, the service ceiling in this case would have been around 21-22,000 feet.) The 777 was well within reach of the R-60s, though. As a non-maneuvering, transport aircraft, it would have been laughably easy to hit…

    Click to access 777_perf.pdf


    Engine-out altitude capability (MTOW, ISA + 10°C) Basic: 16,200 ft Maximum Weight: 15,600 ft

    After the 777’s engine was hit and disabled by the R-60, the 777 would have descended to around 15-16,000 feet. That is the standard one-engine-out ‘cruise’ altitude as above. It may have been less with the damage. If I were the pilot, I would have been on a circling descent through and below that altitude, looking for a nearby airport or good field.

    This descent would have put the 777 well within the Su-25’s altitude capability. So, it would have been possible at that point to conduct a ‘strafing’ run.


    Also, from http://www.anderweltonline.com/wissenschaft-und-technik/luftfahrt-2014/shocking-analysis-of-the-shooting-down-of-malaysian-mh17/:

    Consider the armament of the SU-25: It is equipped with a double-barreled 30-mm gun, type GSh-302 / AO-17A, fight record: 250 rounds anti-tank fire or splinter-explosive projectiles, in a defined order a Gliederzerfallgurt are attached.

    • Scott Locklin said, on August 3, 2014 at 9:34 pm

      That’s at least a physically possible scenario. The likelihood of such an attack is still approaching zero considering the condition of the engines on the ground and the fact that the Su-25 never came within cannon range of the 777.
      Then there is the whole motivation thing. I mean, if they planned to do it (why, for gods sake; it’s not like the Western media needs anything like facts to demonize the Russians) … why not use Su-27? If they didn’t plan to do it … why would a Ukrainian attack jet shoot at what is obviously a civilian airliner? Why would it have an R-60 on it in the first place? It’s not like you could mistake a 777 for an Il-96 or something.

      • Juha-Matti Hakala said, on August 3, 2014 at 10:04 pm

        Transponder stopped sending ALT-data, very shortly after hit occurs. Speed drops to ~450km/h from ~900km/h while AC is still at FL330.

        In ten seconds speed drops well below B777 stall speed @ 33 000ft.

        R-60 has continous rod warhead. Signs would be easy to see.

        • Raymond Blohm said, on August 3, 2014 at 10:46 pm

          Most reports indicate the fighter was closing from the rear, which is the most advantageous for infrared guidance. With infrared guidance, the missile would home-in directly on the hottest area – the engine exhaust. The warhead would probably detonate in the exhaust cone or adjacent to it. In the Boeing 777, the engine is slung well out in front of the wing. The tungsten expanding-rod warhead would rip up the engine but probably not take out the wing or flight control cabling. Combined with the small R-60 warhead, the ‘hit’ might indeed be survivable.

          Today’s jet engines are built with FAA-mandated ‘containment shields’. They are meant to contain high-velocity fan/compressor/turbine blades if something causes them to shear off. They are basically armored ‘cans’ surrounding the rotating parts. A missile detonating inside this ‘can’ might have the tungsten rods contained, rather than punching through the nacelle and into the fuselage. If detonating on the far side of the ‘can’ from the fuselage, much the same result.

          “In ten seconds, speed drops well below B777 stall speed @ 33 000ft.” Stall speed is only relevant for level flight. If the pilots were still alive, they would have lowered the nose to whatever angle of attack the aircraft was able to hold before stalling, and allowed the aircraft altitude to decrease in a shallow ‘glide’. This would have bought them time to figure out how to stay alive…

          The fact that “Speed drops to ~450km/h from ~900km/h while AC is still at FL330” can support an air-to-air missile hit. Thrust is halved almost instantaneously as one engine is taken out. The other engine hauls the aircraft into a high yaw angle. Result: much higher drag. Both effects combine to be like tossing out a speed brake.

          Also, ret. Col. Zhilin says, “…the Boeing turned 180 degrees to the left.” This would be the direct result of losing thrust on the left engine. The pilots were probably more concerned with staying in the air (under control) than their heading…

          • Juha-Matti Hakala said, on August 4, 2014 at 4:54 am

            Transponder failure can only mean, that either the electricity went or cockpit was hit. Since both engines got generator, electricity would have been sustained and engine hit highly unlikely would damage the transponder.
            Transponder is at cockpit.

            Stall speed is relevant always, as poor AF447 reminds us.
            Radar return shows us the speed, which was un-flyable for B777 from ~10 seconds from first signs.

            Nose dive would shown higher speed numbers. Now speed drop shows us un-flyable condition, tail dive or immediate aerodynamic problems.

            • franksz said, on August 4, 2014 at 8:38 am

              Transponder failure? Or jammed?

            • Brendan said, on August 4, 2014 at 2:31 pm

              There’s no reason to suspect transponder failure when it continues to send aircraft ID and speed. It’s more likely that the instrument for measuring altitude was not designed for catastrophic conditions where the plane has suddenly lost more than half its normal speed and is possibly spinning around.

                • Brendan said, on August 4, 2014 at 8:34 pm

                  I don’t see anything in that page that contradicts what I said about transponder failure.
                  I have a problem though with the rest of what he says (about the ‘SU25’ really being just wreckage of the MH17) . The Russians claim that the SU25 was ascending, in which case it could not really be falling wreckage (I guess that information came from primary radar data but they didn’t give those details at the press conference).

                  Of course the Russians could be lying or just seeing what they want to see on the radar screen. If that’s the case, why haven’t the Ukrainians released their own radar data to explain what else, if anything, was flying in their airspace near the MH17 at that time?

                  • Juha-Matti Hakala said, on August 4, 2014 at 9:51 pm

                    Mode-S transponder doesn’t send squawk data so often as ALT data. Speed comes from PRS and radar computer, which is travelled distance between sweeps per time. Radar computer calculates that if you are in parameters, it pings you less often.
                    That’s because of capacity of multiple targets. Less data->faster computing.

                    Now, moment of impact happens as follows:
                    The coupling process fails at the time of the missile strike, as evidenced by the APPERIANCE OF SQUARE.
                    Logically, the result of catastrophic system failure on the aircraft is that the transponder fails to squawk the required code anymore, forcing a decouple.
                    What is left once the FPL decouples and the SSR data is gone due to transponder failure is the Primary Surveillance radar paint of MH17. This paint is co-located with the square from the Flight Plan, they diverge as the projected FPL position of MH17 moves away based on expected normal speed of a B777, from its actual (damage and falling wreckage) location as per the PSR
                    The radar paint that the RU MOD tries to describe as the phantom SU25 is in fact the MH17 primary paint of what is now falling wreckage.

                    As Ukrainans are tied to accident research countries, accident happened in Ukraine, they have to follow the certain rules. It’s infact very rare, that ATC data or CVR/FDR data get published anyway. Usually they are just transcripts of those tapes and those publishing can take years.

                    • Brendan said, on August 5, 2014 at 5:49 am

                      That’s all speculation when there is no exact time stamp data about when eveything in the video happened.
                      The Russians should provide that – maybe they have, I only know that it’s not in the video – but if there’s a flaw in what they say, the Ukrainian side should back up their criticism with something more specific.

                      I haven’t seen the Ukrainians or anyone else saying anything about being prevented from releasing data because of certain rules. And publishing cannot take them years if the Russians can do it in a few days. Sorry but I think that people are making up excuses as they go along.

                    • Juha-Matti Hakala said, on August 5, 2014 at 8:14 am

                      ICAO annex 13, section 5.12:

                      Non-disclosure of records
                      The State conducting the investigation of an accident or incident shall not make the following records available for purposes other than accident or incident investigation, unless the appropriate authority for the administration of justice in that State determines that their disclosure outweighs the adverse domestic and international impact such action may have on that or any future investigations:
                      a) all statements taken from persons by the investigation authorities in the course of their investigation;
                      b) all communications between persons having been involved in the operation of the aircraft;
                      c) medical or private information regarding persons involved in the accident or incident;
                      d) cockpit voice recordings and transcripts from such recordings;
                      e) recordings and transcriptions of recordings from air traffic control units;
                      f) cockpit airborne image recordings and any part or transcripts from such recordings; and
                      g) opinions expressed in the analysis of information, including flight recorder information.

                    • Brendan said, on August 5, 2014 at 10:18 am

                      “unless the appropriate authority for the administration of justice in that State determines that their disclosure outweighs the adverse domestic and international impact such action may have on that or any future investigations”.

                      So Kiev can opt out of witholding radar data if disclosure is in the public interest.

                      They weren’t so strict in following the rule about part f) “opinions expressed in the analysis of information, including flight recorder information” when they stated last week that the flight recorders showed that the aircraft was brought down by schrapnel.

                    • Juha-Matti Hakala said, on August 5, 2014 at 12:12 pm

                      Yes, they weren’t and that’s why they got noted.

                      Fex. Crash of Polish President. Tapes came out years after and political/public press was as great as.

            • Raymond Blohm said, on August 4, 2014 at 9:09 pm

              I had not heard of a transponder failure; will look into it. I am inclined to divorce this from ‘crash data’ because of MH370. There, the transponder ceased responding just before the 777 did a near U-turn while disappearing from civilian radar but remaining visible to military skin-paint radar. Very suspicious, possibly indicating the ability to turn off and/or jam the transponder at will.
              I am afraid you misinterpret my comment on stall speed. The way stall speed is defined is within the equations: Lift = Lift Coefficient x 1/2 x Air Density x Velocity-squared & Lift Coefficient = Lift Curve Slope x Angle of Attack. If you combine and solve the equations for Velocity, you find: Velocity = square root of (2 x Lift / [Lift Curve Slope x Angle of Attack x Air Density]). (It is hard to write equations here.) For our purpose, you can take Lift Curve Slope and Air Density as constant. So, Velocity ~ square root of (Lift / Angle of Attack). At stall: V-stall ~ square root of (Lift / maximum Angle of Attack before stalling). This is where my comment, “Stall speed is only relevant for level flight” comes in. For level flight, Lift is defined as constant. So, stall Velocity (V-stall) occurs as a function of maximum Angle of Attack, ONLY. In other words, V-stall is ‘fixed’ in level flight. If the aircraft is allowed to climb or descend, though, Lift becomes a variable. So, V-stall will also be a variable. For descent, the required Lift is less than for level flight. So, V-stall also decreases. This was the rationale behind my statement, “If the pilots were still alive, they would have lowered the nose to whatever angle of attack the aircraft was able to hold before stalling, and allowed the aircraft altitude to decrease in a shallow ‘glide’.” The aircraft would be under control.

              AF447 is a different case. At the time, I read the Accident Reports from beginning to end. The pilots did not realize the aircraft was already way beyond maximum Angle of Attack, i.e., their wings were stalled. They continued to hold the stick back (control column) and kept the aircraft in-stall all the way down. I felt sad for them and all. Ironically, if they had realized their plight, they could have used my above rationale to save themselves. By decreasing the Angle of Attack to just below stalling, they would have had much more Lift available. Riding maximum Angle of Attack rather than attempting to maintain level flight, the aircraft would have ridden down a large arc and eventually leveled out – shaken but alive…
              “Nose dive would shown higher speed numbers.” This would be true at constant thrust. However, if one engine was taken out, thrust would be halved almost instantaneously. The aircraft would decelerate quickly. A dive would add speed due to gravity. These two inputs are opposites, and the aircraft’s resultant speed would be a function of both. A steep dive would probably accelerate. A shallow dive would remain constant or even decelerate. If we ever get REAL flight recorder details, this can be sorted out.

              • Raymond Blohm said, on August 4, 2014 at 9:18 pm

                Oops, forgot Wing Area within the above Lift equation. As it is a constant (assuming wing not blown off), it does not effect the analysis. Sorry.

                • Juha-Matti Hakala said, on August 4, 2014 at 10:05 pm

                  Yes, my English is limited. 🙂

                  I know what you are trying to tell me now.

                  But if transponder was okay, then we should seen it recovering from dive, even at 10 000ft?
                  PSR lost it ability to follow under 5km, but SSR don’t have same restriction. Depending obstacles and so on.

                  • franksz said, on August 4, 2014 at 10:18 pm

                    I agree with Raymond Blohm in that the transponder behavior must be considered separately. I would go further and say that it I find it a disturbing effect of media influence that nobody attempts to draw parallels with MH370. Ordinarily the coincidence of a Malaysian plane being downed under strange circumstances, and not just that but 777s too (which are not common in the skies), would be pointed at with great wonder.

                    • Juha-Matti Hakala said, on August 5, 2014 at 8:41 am

                      Crash is always a sum of details. No single reason.

                      Why jam transponder? If you jam it, it jams all in that area, so SIA and AIC would been affected too. All transponder receivers work at same frequency, 1030 and 1090MHz

                      There are no parallels to MH370.

                      B777 builtnumbers equals B747(all versions), A330, B767 and so on. Very common airliner.

                    • franksz said, on August 5, 2014 at 9:29 am

                      @Juha-Matti Hakala

                      Yes you are right 777 is common – I made a mistake when filtering data on flightradar24.com

                      Parallel with MH370 is a) Malaysian Airlines b) Looks like Russian plane c) transponder deactivated but military radar tracked plane? d) is 777

      • Raymond Blohm said, on August 3, 2014 at 10:08 pm

        I have seen photos of only one engine (frontal view; would love to see a rear view):

        Clear frontal and rear photos of both engines would prove/disprove the air-to-air missile scenario.

        I have not seen the Russian radar images on how close the Su-25 got to the 777 after it did the U-turn; probably indicating it had lost thrust in one engine. Technically, a cannon-firing run could have been made anywhere between 15,000 and 2,000 feet AGL…

        Note on impact angle: The above is a photo of one 777 engine core – the compressor/combustor/turbine – without the large fan segment on the front, which no doubt broke off in the initial moment. This engine core forms a heavy, strong ‘shaft’. This core would ‘spear’ into the soft, farmland-type soil at any but small impact angles. The fact that it is on the surface proves a ‘shallow’ impact angle. (The ‘bending back’ angle of the frontal plane of this core suggests an impact angle of 30-40 degrees, but this could be due to the torque forces ripping off the fan segment.)

        I wonder if the aircraft’s autopilot (or the pilots themselves) was struggling to keep the aircraft level, up to the last moment…

        • YouPi said, on August 5, 2014 at 11:40 am

          One of the engines is much more crashed tan the other: e.g.
          it is remarkable, that the cockpit has in-going round 30mm holes and out-going fragmentation holes, thus signs of an inside explosion!
          The 777 broke in pieces by compression, leaving the wings together and full of kerosene!
          That is why the piece with two wings and the engines exploded on the ground and are located in order of construction!
          If there was a big Bug, than the plane would have been dotted allover with hundreds of fragment-holes!
          The is only fragmentation damage in and around the cockpit and some outlines of the wings 😉
          The kerosene would have been inflamed by red hot fragments and the plane would have been a fire-ball in the air…
          That’s out of the question.

          • Raymond Blohm said, on August 5, 2014 at 5:39 pm

            YouPi, thanks for the link. Photos 10 & 12 show one engine pretty destroyed in the back, although the photo angle is not good for this purpose. I am surprised that there are not more engine photos out there (particularly showing rear view), as this is a critical part of the story…

            Juha-Matti Hakala, “Why jam transponder? If you jam it, it jams all in that area, so SIA and AIC would been affected too. All transponder receivers work at same frequency, 1030 and 1090MHz.” When the MH370 transponder went silent, no other aircraft or control towers were affected. There are many options besides WWII-style jamming…

            • Juha-Matti Hakala said, on August 5, 2014 at 6:12 pm

              MH370 transponder jammed??? 🙂 🙂

              Allright then, end of discussion. 🙂

            • YouPi said, on August 6, 2014 at 1:55 pm

              Just another piece of the puzzle 😉
              Is this the piece in front of the cockpit?

              It’s in relatively perfect condition without any dots at all and must be blown off by the 30mm salvo that must have caused the inside explosion in: the cockpit!
              There was no Buk, no way!

  43. Editor said, on August 4, 2014 at 3:18 am

    A non-existent rebel BUK missile did it. Right. If that were the case, the US spy satellite imagery would be in every newspaper in the western hemisphere. But they’re not. The rebels ordered the plane north 200km over a hot war zone too? Just because?

    The Kiev Nazi regime took out this plane. They have been exposed for fraud after fraud. They have lots of BUK missile launchers too, like the one they put up on the Internet in a town they’ve controlled since May.

  44. Mac said, on August 4, 2014 at 8:09 am

    I’m not even pretending to be an expert but would like to add the following: My Amber Military Aircraft Visual Encyclopedia on page 397 clearly states the service ceiling for the SU-25UTG B Frogfoot to be 10 000m (32,810ft) and that these aircraft were “passed on to the Ukrainian Air Force after the dissolution of the Soviet Union”. All other SU-25’s featured in the book states a service ceiling of 7000m. From what I have learned here is the most likely scenario (after Flight MH17 was instructed by the Kiev tower to lower its altitude from 35 000 to 32 000ft) that it was first hit by a missile (whether SA or Air-to-air). That crippled the plane forcing it to lower it’s speed which could make it theoretically possible for a SU-25UTG B to close in and finish it off with cannon if that was the intention. However – as previously stated – it is highly unlikely to have used this kind of A/C for such an ambush if Mig-29s or SU-27’s were available. There is no proof that it was SU-25’s that were involved – only an assumption – but theoretically it would have been possible. Further more – the level of secrecy surrounding evidence currently supplied by the Kiev and US governments while the Russians has given their full co-operation in this regard raise some level of suspicion there. If it was Russian Ukrainians who “accidentally” shot down the plane by mistake – then why all the secrecy surrounding evidence from the Kiev/US? Even more – if the Russian Ukrainians did it deliberately – what could they possibly gain by that at all except bringing down the wrath of the world upon them? A false flag scenario from the Kiev/US/NATO side to discredit the Russians is more likely in my opinion. Don’t forget Brettenwoods.

    • Snipply said, on August 5, 2014 at 6:24 pm

      If you were intelligent and aware of the real situation you’d realize this is simply an ethnic conflict and breaks down along ethnic lines.
      Russia has spent centuries enslaving the Ukrainian ethnics and sees them as subordinants unworthy of independence to the point that theyve reneged on their own treaties.
      No such thing as a Ukrainian Russian or vice versa in that part of the world, and it’s that parts opinion that matters.
      You can pretend that ethnicity doesnt matter to you but it matters life and death everywhere else.
      The fight is only about Russian reconquista of Ukraine.
      Russia, curiously enough has made major economic and military deals with central American nations busy having their nationals pour across your own southern and other borders.
      Putin seems to be THE border eraser.
      The airplane fantasies are just that, a rabbit hole to get lost in and forget that Russia is invading another nation that wishes to be free of Russian influence forced upon it.

      • franksz said, on August 5, 2014 at 10:50 pm

        What a load of utter bullshit. I live in the Czech Republic, know Ukrainians, Russians, Belarussians and have worked in the whole area. There are no ethnic divisions. The proximity across the Slavic nations makes even differences from district to district in England look diverse. The history here is complex, but one most certain fact is that this has nothing to do with ethnicity. This is about promises that NATO took, after dissolution of the Soviet Union, not to expand NATO into the Ukrainian territory. The USA has a geopolitical agenda right now in North Africa, and Ukraine is just part of it. This is about Qatari pipelines from Iraq. This is about SouthStream and BASF. This is about a proxy energy war with Europe as the prize. Take your clueless rants elsewhere.

        • Scott Locklin said, on August 6, 2014 at 7:47 pm

          Residents of L’viv look physically different from residents of Crimea or Kiev; they also speak a different language, and have only been part of Russia from 1939 (when they were part of Poland) until 1991; and they fought a low level civil war until the 1960s. I’d say there is some ethnic component. Heck, I went into a restaurant in L’viv where they asked me if I had any Moskols with me. All in good fun, no doubt, but the ethnic component is real enough to people who live there.

          • franksz said, on August 6, 2014 at 7:57 pm

            Naahh. There are some minorities like the Tatars and what have you and yeah sure if you compare say the Czechs to the Poles or the Slovaks to say for example the Serbs, you can find ideological differences and vague boundaries, but on the whole you could zip up the Slavic world intro one bloc without really contravening any expectations of diversity on typical old-world nations. Even the so-called ‘languages’ are so close you could probably consider them as just being a more progressed form of dialect. Once you learn Czech for example, it’s a small step to Polish, Slovak, Slovene, etc…The only difference with Russian is the alphabet, but the language is quite close. This is nothing compared to Western Europe where the ancient tribes , the Germanic (teutons, Saxons, etc), are totally different to the Gallic Francs, and so on, and of course the legacy of the holy roman empire there… It’s incomparable. To say that the conflict in Ukraine is about ethnicity is absolute bollocks, I mean completely.

            • Scott Locklin said, on August 6, 2014 at 8:04 pm

              The “Yugoslavians” actually *do* speak a mutually intelligible language (Ukrainian is not much like Russian; maybe old Slavonic, but not Russian), and certainly murdered in myriads each other over ethnic reasons. I wouldn’t call them different races, but they are certainly different ethnicities. Though Ruthenians versus East Ukraine … the phenotypical differences are at least as great as between Pole and German.
              BTW, in the West, my travel pal was corrected when using Russian niceties, while I was corrected in the South-East for using Ukrainian. We figured each knowing a little of each language, the locals would think we were awesome, but in fact, they thought we were assholes about half the time for using the other ethnicity’s language. Oh well. It’s not like I will be there on vacation again any time soon.

              • franksz said, on August 6, 2014 at 8:09 pm

                Ah yes, but the former Yugoslavia, I would agree, was indeed ethnically diverse. It was Tito’s accomplishment I suppose. Without Tito Yugoslavia as a 20th century nation state would not have been possible, and wasn’t ultimately. It’s the same with countries in Africa now, the modern concept of nation state imposed on tribal divisions…when times get hard the older, more ingrained divisions manifest themselves. Yugoslavia was divided even on religious lines. I don’t think the same can be said for Russia/Ukraine/Poland/Belarus, even most of the CZ.

                • Scott Locklin said, on August 6, 2014 at 8:21 pm

                  FWIIW, the West and East follow different branches of Orthodoxy, with Catholics having a plurality in the West (and nicer churches). I figure the Croats and Serbs are just Serbo-Croatians with different religions; their languages seem identical.

                  Alas about Vlad: he is no more. His daughter and grandsons continue to run the place, but it ain’t the same with the old Moravian horseman.

                  • franksz said, on August 6, 2014 at 8:35 pm

                    Ah dammit. Sorry to hear it. I often cycle through and visit friends in Moravia, and I really love the wine growing area they pride themselves so much on there – the Palava region, the beautiful old villages like Mikulov and Valtice, some of which have completely bypassed modern influence and still live in a quiet, sunny bliss of forgotten medieval tranquility. Regards to them.

                    Well if you feel like visiting the former Yugoslavia, Croatia is part of the EU now and driving across the border might as well be as easy now as if it was already Schengen (which I think it still isn’t )…and if you feel like a daring stint in Eastern Ukraine I could probably put you in touch with people to help with that too perhaps 🙂 Let me know if you feel like heading out this way. Bay Area huh? I was in SF once a long time ago.

                    • Scott Locklin said, on August 11, 2014 at 10:25 pm

                      I’ve been meaning to visit Split and Dubrovnic for decades now, but haven’t managed to get around to it. I have an American friend who speaks fluent Croatian (mom and dad); he had a great time, though his accent caused some troubles in Serbia.
                      I could probably rustle up some contacts in Donetsk myself (I know lots of Crimeans), though most of my contacts are in L’viv and Kiev. I was actually planning on being there for the summer, continuing my explorations in Ivano Frankivsk and other such places, but events and finances have prevented it. It is very tragic to me witnessing all this. I had hoped nothing but success for the Ukrainians. Big hearted and epic people.

          • franksz said, on August 6, 2014 at 8:04 pm

            …but yes even here in CZ there are differences between say the Moravians and the Czechs. Differences in culinary habits, appearance, and so on, so I know what you mean, and the rivalry is there too….but I would not take it so far as to call it ethinicity.

            • Scott Locklin said, on August 6, 2014 at 8:07 pm

              Well, tell that to the Ukrainians! I, for one, would like for them to stop killing each other.

              Oh yeah: fun fact, my favorite Bay Area restaurateur, Vlad, used to correct people who came into his restaurant: “I am Moravian, not Czech!” He also was rude to Russians, just because. Vlad was awesome. Hats off!

              • franksz said, on August 6, 2014 at 8:10 pm

                LOL!! I can just imagine it. I bet he drank white wine with his breakfast. Tell Vlad “Na Zdravi!” from me.

                • josip said, on August 7, 2014 at 5:58 pm

                  The ethnic difference between croats, serbs and bosnians is: Croats drink croatian coffee, which is hot water directly poured over fine grinded coffee beans together with 1-2 spoons of sugar. Serbs drink serbian coffee, which is hot water directly poured over fine grinded coffee beans together with 1-2 spoons of sugar. And bosnians drink bosnian coffee, which is hot water directly poured over fine grinded coffee beans together with 1-2 spoons of sugar – and all look down on each other for the other’s way of drinking coffee….

                  no seriously. The only true difference among them actually is religion and the question about the sides of the according cultural spheres, they used to team up with. That alwas made this region a potential hot spot for clashes and conflicts between greater powers. This, and a – in my view – certain tendency of slavic people to “go with the greater mob”, which unfortunately was never solved but rather exploited by former socialist governments. Made their societies somewhat more vulnerable to clashes between “ethnic” groups that actually are very hard to distinguish from an outside view. But maybe that is also just a momentary picture…

            • Havar Eriksen said, on September 6, 2014 at 4:57 pm

              I must agree with Scott here. I got friends both in Russia and Ukraina. And the ethnic ukrainians both look and behave differently. The ones I know in the south of Ukraina are mostly of russian ethnicity and do see themselves as different. However, there’s differences between the exile russians and those born and bred in Russia, too. It’s the same in other countries in eastern Europe that has a sizable russian minority, like Lithuania and Poland. The exile russians create their own sub culture that’s not really russian and not really from their host country. Strangely enough the exile russians seem to be more proud of their russian heritidge than many real russians are. I guess they don’t see all the problems back in the motherland in the same way. But I too just want them to stop killing each other. I fear that the next time I travel to Ukraina it won’t be to visit old friends, but as part of a intervention or stabilizing force.

  45. Mac said, on August 4, 2014 at 8:20 am

    Apologies for the last sentence – I meant Operation Northwoods.

  46. Roger Bigod said, on August 4, 2014 at 2:18 pm

    Pics and matching ground locations from WSJ:


    The cockpit is at some distance from the rest. Perhaps it broke off first.

  47. Mac said, on August 4, 2014 at 3:23 pm

    I’m not even pretending to be an expert but would like to add the following: My Amber Military Aircraft Visual Encyclopedia on page 397 clearly states the service ceiling for the SU-25UTG B Frogfoot to be 10 000m (32,810ft) and that these aircraft were “passed on to the Ukrainian Air Force after the dissolution of the Soviet Union”. All other SU-25’s featured in the book states a service ceiling of 7000m. From what I have learned here is the most likely scenario (after Flight MH17 was instructed by the Kiev tower to lower its altitude from 35 000 to 32 000ft) that it was first hit by a missile (whether SAM or Air-to-air). That crippled the plane forcing it to lower it’s speed which could make it theoretically possible for a SU-25UTG B to close in and finish it off with cannon if that was the intention. However – as previously stated – it is highly unlikely to have used this kind of A/C for such an ambush if Mig-29s or SU-27’s were available. There is no proof that it was SU-25’s that were involved – only an assumption – but theoretically it would have been possible. Further more – the level of secrecy surrounding evidence currently supplied by the Kiev and US governments while the Russians has given their full co-operation in this regard raise some level of suspicion there. If it was Russian Ukrainians who “accidentally” shot down the plane by mistake – then why all the secrecy surrounding evidence from the Kiev/US? Even more – if the Russian Ukrainians did it deliberately – what could they possibly gain by that at all except bringing down the wrath of the world upon them? A false flag scenario from the Kiev/US/NATO side to discredit the Russians is more likely in my opinion. Don’t forget Operation Northwoods.

  48. Snipply said, on August 5, 2014 at 5:50 pm

    Any machinegun bulletholes in the plane would have been placed their after the plane wreckage was discovered by the Russian rebels for obvious reasons.
    In a thousand years of history, Russia has invaded and lied about it with every neighbour it’s ever had.
    That it intends to reinvade Ukraine is a history redux because Russia cannot survive without Ukraines food and it fears fracking in East Ukraine to topple it’s hegemony.
    Search the worlds history, Russians have only invaded and abused it’s neighbours.
    Ukraine simply wants to exist free of Russian interference,
    There was once a time where a new nation simply wished to be free of the British but that was a long long time ago.

    Remember, If Russia can declare Ukraines borders null and void, it can declare US borders null and void just as easily.
    Russia has rebuilt it’s military to take on but one adversary on enemy soil, that enemy being the US, it really has no others other than NATO which is essentially the US anyway, since the Europeans dare not experiece an winter without Russian gas heating their homes.

    • chris said, on August 5, 2014 at 10:21 pm

      At last, the truth, another Russian hater. When has NATO or America ever respected others borders, who instigated the coup in Ukraine ? If only Russia could give America back to the Indians, the world would be a more peaceful place.

    • franksz said, on August 5, 2014 at 10:58 pm

      Ukraine as was known does not even exist anymore. The capture of Crimea is a fait accompli. Ukrainian people hate their corrupt elites, and most of them wish for reunification with Russia. You should take your naivete elsewhere.

    • Mac said, on August 6, 2014 at 7:09 pm

      Hi Snippy – I think we’re getting side tracked here. In my contribution I merely tried to answer the blog’s original question which was “Can the Su-25 intercept and shoot down a 777?” I think I have answered that and merely added a comment on the reason why because it popped up in the other contributions. But since you play on the reasons only herewith a mere food for thought: As to regards the machine gun bullets (note those were cannon rounds) added to the wreckage afterwards – quite possible if someone want’s to start a controversy for whatever reason. “In a 1000 years of history” …” So has most nations on earth including the USA. “Russia cannot survive without Ukraine’s food” …so does the rest of Eastern Europe and some Western European countries. Go research why the Ukraine was created in the first place in 1917. It has always served as the bread basket of Eastern Europe and will always remain so. Also research of which country Kiev was the first Capitol. “Russians have only invaded and abused it’s neighbours”. Now that is an interesting one. Please do a count of how many countries Russia ( or the Soviet Union for that matter ) has invaded since WW2 vs the US doing the same. Also try and establish how many military bases Russia has got outside it’s borders today vs the US military bases outside the US borders and think again. “Ukraine simply wants to exist free of Russian interference”. So does the Russian Ukrainians living in the SE parts of the country ( where they are the majority ) who wants to live in peace without interference from the illegal pro-US/NATO backed puppet Kiev regime who is aided and funded by the International Bankers and other parties with vested interests. Also thank Khrushchev for creating this mess in the first place. If he had left the original Ukrainian borders as it were we would not have had this convenient problem today. As for your last paragraph – the majority of the Crimean population voted to be part of Russia again – regardless of Western opinion. The West has no right to describe to the majority of any nation who they should side with – and if they don’t like it – tough luck! No matter what election you have there and supervised by whoever – the result will always be the same if conducted fairly.

      I urge you once more to google Operation Northwoods (it’s even on Wikipedia) – remember JFK’s murder and think again.

      Let’s rather stick to the facts regarding the original question. I think that has been answered. Thanks Scott for starting an interesting discussion – I think that has raised and cleared many questions although some may not like the answers.

      • Juha-Matti Hakala said, on August 7, 2014 at 7:05 pm

        Actually not. Just UBS.

        Your books SU-25UTG is naval version 2-seater, which has upgraded R-195sh engines. Ukraine SU-25 are M1 versions with less powerful R-95 engines.

        No cannon holes at wregage.

        Russian have tried to conquer Georgia, Tchetchenya, Ukraina… Not succeeded though.
        They have altered to uprisings at Praha, Hungary, DDR…
        So they have participated as much as US, but only difference is that they have not “won” their battles, but US victories are also little relative.

        • Scott Locklin said, on August 7, 2014 at 7:38 pm

          To be fair, they haven’t tried to conquer Ukraine or Georgia, though they certainly whooped the Georgians pretty well. Though I can understand not trusting the rooskie with a Finnish last name. I think it’s clear that the Finns have nothing to worry about, so long as you can dig up a Mannerheim or two.

        • Mac said, on August 7, 2014 at 7:54 pm

          Hi Juta, Wikipedia states that the Ukraine Air Force has currently got both SU-25UTG’s and SU-25M1’s, but I really don’t want to make a fuss about SU-25’s involved at all. As I stated before – that was only an assumption with no real proof at all as it would have been more likely to use available Mig-29’s or SU-27’s if a planned ambush is what happened. I’m also not trying to white-wash past Russian aggression in history at all – just stating that in this instance the more likely aggressor with an agenda seems to be the West and not Russia, with the US involved in more acts of aggression since WW2 if you do the count. For Russia right now to get involved in a war (let alone a world war) with the West would be suicide as their military had no real growth in the past 2 decades. Putin knows that and that is why he’s trying everything in the book to resolve conflict situations by diplomatic means. I am just stating facts as it is. As for “no cannon holes at wreckage”(sic) I suggest you look at the relevant articles and photo’s discussed at: http://www.globalresearch.ca.

          • Juha-Matti Hakala said, on August 7, 2014 at 8:17 pm

            No, they got SU-25(M1) and SU-25UB(upgraded to UBM1), not the naval version(UTG) with powerful engine.
            10x UTGs are the only operational aircrafts and they all belong to Russian 279th naval aviation regiment at Severomorsk-3. Naval version has also arrester hook and overall electronics to naval activities.

            Nobody believes what GR says, they are bunch of chemtrail-believers and not a very good source.

          • Raymond Blohm said, on August 9, 2014 at 10:00 pm

            As regards the controversy between Su-25 types available, it really is irrelevant if air-to-air missiles were first used to bring the 777 down to around 15,000 ft. Then, fancy aircraft like Mig-29’s or SU-27’s are not needed. We need photos of the rear of BOTH 777 engines…

            • Juha-Matti Hakala said, on August 13, 2014 at 5:43 pm

              Difference at altitude is 18000ft. That’s 6km. AA missile range is 8km, about. B777 goes 15km per minute. Not plausible.

  49. Juha-Matti Hakala said, on August 7, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    Agreed, bad choice of words, though Ukraine future is open.

    No, nothing to worry. That’s true. I don’t see signs of real problems with Russia at this very moment.
    I work with 2 Russians in Finland, I have no issues with them, Good guys. Problem has never been Russians, just their leaders. 🙂

    Digging a new Mannerheim at 2014 may be a biiiiig problem. 🙂

    • Mac said, on August 7, 2014 at 8:09 pm

      Juha – I have the most utmost respect for the Finns for the way they defended their country in the Winter War – well there was an example for Russian aggression if you want one – but that was during WW2. Sadly – the West’s view of the Russians was also very much fueled by propaganda during the first Cold War and again even more so now that we’re moving into the 2nd Cold War. Let’s just hope that sanity will prevail and all this nonsense will not result in WW3. The consequences of that can only be too terrible to contemplate…

    • Tel said, on August 12, 2014 at 10:21 am

      Problem has never been Russians, just their leaders.

      True in every country.

      • Chris Devit said, on August 14, 2014 at 1:00 am

        The same is true for America.

  50. Juha-Matti Hakala said, on August 7, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    It’s infowar as bad as it gets now. Every side, western, eastern, Ukraine is untrustworthy.
    Russian DoD was BS, US hasn’t provided anything useful info, Ukraina is a side in a conflict. Internetpages misquotes, people are believers and so on. It’s very hard to every people to follow.

    Only cold facts is relevant, and that’s why I don’t say who pulled the trigger. It’s impossible to say. All I’m saying that what is not possible in numerics and physics.

    • franksz said, on August 8, 2014 at 12:02 am

      Well we’re all here, and we’re all OK. I think all of us should stop fighting, and I think that includes for national borders. They aren’t important. Especially when we look at how EU and Schengen membership trivializes it all. If those separatists in Donetsk don’t want to pay their taxes to Kiev, then so what? Should people have to die for it? It doesn’t matter. Let’s just forget it and redraw the lines on the maps. It doesn’t matter, it’s just a line on a map, that shifts anyway, from epoch to epoch and time to time. It’s nothing worth fighting for, so Ukraine stop, Russia stop and the big bonus is that the US will have nothing to exploit if they do.

      • Tel said, on August 12, 2014 at 10:19 am

        The point is that where there is an opportunity to use lies and deception for advantage, you will find someone willing to take that advantage. The only way to stop this criminal behaviour is to discover what happened and make it known to all. This concept is the basis of all police work.

        • franksz said, on August 12, 2014 at 10:31 am

          I agree that we need to know what happened, but I think ‘knowing what happened’ is as much about narrow focus on a detailed event as involving the public in the wider geopolitical situation and history.

          It seems to me as though overemphasis of specific events in the media is serving more as a distraction from the bigger picture than as a useful debate.

          There are many surrounding events both historical and current, such as the original deal with Russia at the fall of the Soviet Union not to expand NATO into areas like Ukraine, the anti missile system the US is trying to deploy in Ukraine, the Qatari pressure to build a pipeline through Syria from Iraq necessitating Assad’s removal and end of Russian support, the plans between Russia and BASF for Sudstream, the Black Sea fleet in Crimea and it’s Bosphorus access to Syria, and how this all ties into the US energy and military strategy….all kinds of extremely important things like this that each contribute paint marks on the canvas of truth.

          It seems to me as though the media, including many blogs, do not aim to elevate the discussion, they do not aim to enlighten and improve the world, but really to draw everyone’s attention to microscopic areas of that canvas, to blinker, obfuscate and confuse, in the name of whatever agenda they choose to subscribe to for whatever reason.

          • Raymond Blohm said, on August 12, 2014 at 7:40 pm

            franksz, you are very wise. Context is important. There is an old debating-maneuver where setting “what is permissible to talk about” is more important than the subsequent debate. The ‘people’ behind the media learned this lesson long ago…

          • Tel said, on August 14, 2014 at 11:31 pm

            In summary, you are saying that when investigating a murder, it is important to take motive into account.

            Yes, I agree, we should be asking “who benefits?” and that’s also fundamental to any police work.

            • franksz said, on August 15, 2014 at 12:03 pm

              Weeeeell, that’s part of it but the analogy isn’t a good one I think. You can’t reduce it to just murder and motive. That’s as if the world attention was on why exactly did Jack Smith from London shoot Max Mustermann from Munich while failing to talk at all or even provide coverage of an ongoing World War 2 .

  51. Joel Choy said, on August 11, 2014 at 5:48 am

    There is simply just no way Buk missile shrapnel would just hit the cockpit in the picture like that. I would expect Buk shrapnel to be above or below the plane and all over a much larger area. The damage is so localized. As for the SU-25 a ground attack fighter can’t climb that high. True, but it can fire its air-to-air missile at close range at MH17 for sure. Here is Malaysian News Strait Times press would be a more objective reliable view because it is neither the West nor Russian view.

    More convincing picture of cockpit damage localized in a small area is here


  52. Tel said, on August 12, 2014 at 10:07 am

    Out of interest, this article claims the “aphid” air-to-air missile set fire to the engine, and brought the 777 down that way, same as Raymond Blohm describes above.


    Note that in the photo, looks like one engine is on fire but not both, and the front of the aircraft is completely undamaged, with basically intact airframe. Indeed it looks like it could plausibly be landed in that condition if you were very lucky. However, it isn’t clear where that photo comes from, when you go through to YouTube it still isn’t clear where the video came from. At any rate IF it happens to be a real video, the damage to the cockpit must have come later, which would point to something other than a BUK.

    This corroborates an emerging theory postulated by local investigators that the Boeing 777-200 was crippled by an air-to-air missile and finished off with cannon fire from a jet that had been shadowing it as it plummeted to earth.”

    Well done Raymond Blohm.

  53. Brendan said, on August 12, 2014 at 12:59 pm

    The photo on that page is of the N533PS seconds after collision with Cessna 172 over San Diego, even though the caption says “Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 crashes in Ukraine”.

    • Raymond Blohm said, on August 12, 2014 at 7:28 pm

      Agreed. Photo shows a 727. Nose gear down and flaps deflected would indicate just after takeoff or just before (normal) landing. Ignorant poster or psy-op…

      • Raymond Blohm said, on August 12, 2014 at 7:34 pm

        By the way, I meant the photo, not the body of the article, when I said, “Ignorant poster or psy-op…” The air-to-air missile is still a possibility, but unproven yet.

        And thanks, Tel !

    • Tel said, on August 13, 2014 at 9:10 am

      I was wondering how anyone got such a clean photo of MH17, which is why I was doubtful about it.

  54. Brendan said, on August 13, 2014 at 8:33 pm

    Hi guys, it’s great news that John Kerry’s team has discovered the cause of the MH17 crash. We’ll just have to wait a bit for the details:

    “While a full investigation had yet to be completed, Mr Kerry said there was no doubt about the type of weapon used and where it had come from.
    ‘We saw the take-off, we saw the hit, we saw this airplane disappear from the radar screen, so there is really no mystery,’ he said.
    ‘But we need to have the complete investigation to legitimise whatever steps are going to be taken as we go down the road.’ ”

    • Raymond Blohm said, on August 14, 2014 at 12:00 am


      Title: American Intelligence Officers Who Battled the Soviet Union for Decades Slam the Flimsy “Intelligence” Against Russia
      Posted on July 29, 2014 by WashingtonsBlog

      It is very unusual for intelligence types to put their lives/reputations on the line like in this signed report.

      The article is really worth reading in detail, especially as US still has not come up with ‘intelligence quality’ evidence…

    • Chris Devit said, on August 14, 2014 at 12:55 am

      So, the Disney Studios are nearly finished their work on his project, the Russians were able to give their information in days, this is looking more like another cover up with each day that passes.

  55. Moosher said, on August 15, 2014 at 4:02 pm

    The rebels had the wreckage for days before allowing anyone near it,they tried sawing the cockpit in two,they mixed old downed fighter parts on the site,it seems likely they sprayed the remains with heavy machine guns as a cover up.

  56. » MH17 Inner Quests said, on August 15, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    […] List of MH17 airframe parts Map of a Tragedy – WSJ Smoking Gun that Russian Separatists shot Down MH17 – Forbes Locklin on Science Blog […]

  57. YY said, on August 16, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    An obvious line of thinking missed is that the choice of Su-25 is not a free choice by the Russians who identified it (one, not two I believe), rather than to insist it was an Su-27 or Mig-29 which would have negated the captioned argument. though would not have been what they observed. Military people may not be strong in natural sciences and the arts, but they do know weapons and the capability/limits thereof. So it can’t be by choice to suit any false narrative.

    As to the choice of Su-25 by the interception side, it is quite possible that they had no option of a higher performance vehicle given a false flag conspiracy has a natural limiting effect on available personnel and material. While coverups and denials will always involve larger rings of people in the know, the original execution is usually done by a small group of fanatics/crazies. As cold blooded mass murder of third party innocents is beyond most reasonable actors, it is hoped that coverup thereof is also beyond the comfort of those who figure it out.

  58. franksz said, on August 16, 2014 at 2:35 pm

    Probably need a translation engine for this one, but basically it says the Ukrainians are now saying that it was probably Ukrainian deserters that shot the plane down http://zpravy.idnes.cz/sbu-malajsijsky-letoun-mohli-sestrelit-ukrajinsti-dezerteri-p6p-/zahranicni.aspx?c=A140816_145705_zahranicni_zt#utm_source=sph.idnes&utm_medium=richtext&utm_content=top6

    • Scott Locklin said, on August 16, 2014 at 9:11 pm

      Yeah, the translation engine doesn’t do much good on that one. I’m more interested in Ukraine claiming to be shelling Russian columns. That can’t be good.

    • Brendan said, on August 17, 2014 at 6:10 am

      Maybe the deserter story is about a report last month that US satellite images show men wearing Ukrainian uniforms using the SA-11 missile system. The allegation is that these must have been defectors and not Ukrainian soldiers:

      The other story about Ukrainian forces shelling a Russian military convoy is almost certainly a work of fiction even though it has been reported in the news as fact.

      The Ukrainians claim that they were able to track the column from the Russian border, shell it and confirm that part of it was destroyed. If that were true they would also have some photographic or other evidence from before or after the attack and they would be happy to show it to the world. Not only have they not offered any evidence but they haven’t even given any accurate details such as the time or location of the attack so that journalists could try to confirm it.

      They appear to have latched on the story from the night before from two journalists that they saw a convoy of armoured vehicles crossing the border from Russia. This story is questionable as well because neither journalist took any pictures of this cross-border incursion even though they had taken photos earlier of the vehicles moving towards the border.

      These are just the latest in the list of “dogs that don’t bark” in Ukraine.

    • franksz said, on August 17, 2014 at 7:54 am

      It’s interesting…the stories are now getting so varied and far-fetched. Apparently the investigation results are coming in September and I suppose that Kiev has something to worry about.

  59. josip said, on August 18, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    Has anyone checked this site:


    I actually don’t know, if this is any reliable information but at least it looks to be somehow useful.

    BTW, does someone know, where the frontline is/was on the 17th?

  60. mshaffer said, on September 17, 2014 at 1:09 pm

    @ Scott Locklin I have a few questions, now the preliminary report has been released:


    (1) The MH17 was flying at 300 knots, less than 500 km/h? How fast can a SU-25 fly?
    (2) How high can an SU-25 fly?
    (3) When I ask these questions, I am seeing real data, e.g., from a pilot, not from a textbook. In your comments, it appears @ tomkitta has a little more experience understanding actual limitations of a plane. Have your opinions of this article changed?
    (4) A heat-seeking missile from the ground, what part of the plane would it lock onto? Engines? Cockpit? How accurate is a BUK at hitting a moving target?
    (5) Why would the cockpit fall from the sky first? Why would the blackbox have no comments from the pilots saying ‘OMG, we are being attacked’?
    (6) What was operation Sea Breeze? Was it tracking commercial traffic that day? Where is the satellite imagery of what actually happened?
    (7) How close to the plane does a SU-25 need to be to shoot an Air-to-Air Missile (R-60M)? How fast does the missile travel? How close to shoot its 30mm guns (GSh-30-2)? How fast do these “high energy objects” travel? Can such munitions target a specific portion of the airplane (e.g., the cockpit)?
    (8) Why does the preliminary report only mention commercial airline traffic?
    (9) US black boxes record 2 hours of data, this black box only recorded the last 30 minutes of data… In this scenario, the ATC recordings 90 minutes early would be essential to understand more of what has happened? Where is this data?

    So there are a few questions.

  61. Roger Bigod said, on September 18, 2014 at 5:29 pm

    Saker has a report from the Russians.


    • Jules said, on September 20, 2014 at 6:03 pm

      It looks fake. There is no report up at the Russian Union of Engineers website. There was no SU-25 in the vicinity as even the original Russian radar data showed. The Russian side has told so many howlers that they’ve discredited themselves to all but the most politically motivated. I used to read The Saker but now I wouldn’t trust anything he writes on any subject as he’s allowed his bitterness to overwhelm any concern for objective truth.

      • Roger Bigod said, on September 22, 2014 at 1:44 am

        Thanks for the comments. Forensic pathology of airplanes is way over my pay grade, but I’m interested in the possibility that it’s a false flag.

        I didn’t realize the Saker is unreliable. The posting struck me as problematic because of the skimpy photographs and annotations. It didn’t seem to support the conclusion.

  62. Fei said, on November 5, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    Simple question: if BUK missile were used, where is the missile’s smoke trail? Simply ‘poof’ into thin air?

    BUK smoke trail can last longer..or can someone “removed” the smoke trail by using photoshop?

  63. ttb said, on March 10, 2015 at 12:13 pm

    Hi Scott, I hope you don’t mind my digging up an old blog/thread/comment section.

    To lay my own cards on the table I have no quarrel with either faction here. As you put it -I have no horse in the race. But I’d love to see those responsible at least named and shamed even if I’ve little confidence they’ll ever see prison for it.

    I’m no expert but I find myself in agreement with a lot of your conclusions re the capabilities (and lack thereof) of an Su-25 for the mission it’s being suggested in some quarters it undertook. I’ve told more than one person advocating this theory that they might as well be claiming a Stuka dropped a bomb in the window. It’s just the wrong horse for the course -a fact which some have now turned into being part of an elaborate double-bluff as no-one would suspect an Su-25 while a Mig-29 would attract attention to itself in a warzone where there’s no belligerent aircraft for it to intercept. It strikes me as more likely an attempt from the Russian/pro-Russian side to shoe-horn an alternative narrative onto available evidence. Wrong plane, wrong gear, no mayday and no motive …unless you’re into multi arced conspiracies of a sort that’d make a script writer on Revenge blush – never mind House of Cards.

    I also largely agree with your analysis of the conflict though I probably think the Russians have been somewhat mischievious in that prior to MH17 they were doing little I could see to dampen the conflict and seemed to be at least passively supportive of the separatists. But if the launcher came from Russia -then I think this tragedy is an instance of unintended consequence. Part-time soldiers playing with bigger boys toys and shooting in a panic. I also think the Ukrainians have at least a case to answer if the allegation that their aircraft were flying in the radar shadow of commercial traffic is demonstrated. That’s a war crime all on it’s own. It’s little different from Saddam Hussein bouncing a British kid on his knee.

    As you an many here have poured over many photographs, as I have myself, I have a related question. Do you think the oxygen masks deployed? I’m sure a few of them broke out of their housings for sure as the cabin broke up but I can’t see for certain in pictures of overhead bins etc with the tv screens, air-con etc slung underneath if the masks have dropped. If they had I think we’d have seen more photgraphic evidence of them and I think we’d have seen more on the bodies. (yes -to my cost and by accident, as I’m not into gore or terrorporn, I’ve seen some photgraphs of victims.) There is an allegation made by a Dutch politician that one of the victims was “wearing an oxygen mask”. This was rowed back on later I believe and restated that the male victim had a mask around his neck. In the mayhem of a catastrophic decompression I can imagine a device that has a long straggly bit being the most likely to snag and entangle. I hope it’s not just wishful thinking on my part that I find it improbable that they had time to deploy and that just one passenger managed to get a mask on. I think if time had allowed we’d have seen more than one – and even allowing for them being ripped off by forces and pressures during decent I thought I’d see more of them amongst the wreckage.

    I like to think I’m not seeing them for the same reason there was no mayday (even allowing for Aviate, Navigate, Communicate) and both the FDR and CVR stop dead in the same second. There just wasn’t time.

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