Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 aircraft was indeed shot down by a Buk ground-to-air missile on July 17, 2014, the Russian company that makes air defense systems said. However, the weapon used was an older version no longer operated by Russian military within the national territory.
Almaz-Antey makes the Buk systems. At a press conference in Moscow on Tuesday, it said its report disclosure was the result of its own analysis on the pattern of damage seen on the MH17 wreckage site that was recovered from the fields of eastern Ukraine.
The company revealed a BUK 9M38M1 surface-to-air missile armed with a 9H314M warhead was used to down the MH17 plane that instantly killed all 298 people on board. The warhead exploded near the Boeing’s cockpit. Afterwards, it showered the plane with shrapnel. Almaz-Antey added the Buk-M1 missile exploded close to the left side of the cockpit, about 3-4 meters away from the plane. Its fragments hit the left wing and the left engine.
Mikhail Malisevskiy, chief engineer at the company, said they found a distinctive “double-T shape” among the wreckage, which prompted them to narrow down the type of missile used. Moreover, the shrapnel holes in the plane were consistent with those produced by the old Buk missile and warhead.
In a nutshell, the company said Russia had discontinued the Buk M-1 system. It said it last produced such missile types in 1999. The last ones in their stockpile have been delivered to target customers, mostly foreign ones. At present, the Russian armed forces use a 9M317M warhead with the Buk system, Almaz-Antey maintained.
“Neither the company nor its enterprises could have supplied these rockets in the 21st century,” Yan Novikov, the company’s chief executive, told a news conference run by the Kremlin press service. He added the Ukrainian military arsenals still have and use the old Buk system.
The Russian weapons manufacturer, one of those facing sanctions imposed by the European Union, said the missile was launched from the Zaroshenske region of Ukraine.
At the time of the downing, Ukraine claimed separatists controlled the region; Moscow said the town was under Ukrainian military control.
But originally, immediately after the incident happened in 2014, Russia claimed that it was a Ukrainian fighter jet that had downed the plane.
Marie Harf, US State Department spokeswoman, belied the credibility of the analytical report. “First they said it wasn’t a Buk missile. Now, suddenly, they’re saying it is but it wasn’t them. So I just think the credibility is not 100 percent here on that.”