This is the first part in the second season of videos and articles covering the downing of MH17, produced by the MH17 Inquiry. The first season is available here: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4, Part 5 and Part 6.
Series 1 covered and disputed the major “findings” of both the MH 17 official inquiries and those of the “citizen journalist” groups. Beginning with in-depth investigations into the sightings of a BUK convoy in Zugres, that mysterious Elderberry bush, BBC coverage, sightings of a MIG fighter and ending with the enigmatic “To Whose Benefit?”
Not being a group to sit on their laurels, nor on a cosy armchair like a Bellingcat … the MH 17 Inquiry authors have begun production of series 2, continuing their tradition of investigating on location, where the evidence is. The opening episode begins with a recap of the MH17 disaster, asking which countries have ever “accidentally” shot down a commercial passenger jet and how is it possible that such disasters happened?
The inquiry travels to Tuusula in Finland, to study the only BUK M system in the world that is on public display at the Anti-Aircraft Museum and to interview Esa Kelloniemi, a retired Commander of a Finnish Anti-Aircraft Regiment with direct experience of both commissioning and commanding the deployment of BUK systems.
Finland, we are told, chose the BUK M system in preference to others, not only because of its power but because of it’s target identification technology that includes an optical viewing system and complex Non-Cooperative Target Recognition (NCTR) technology that is so sophisticated that it can deduce, from analysis of the radar signals bouncing back from an aircraft, if that plane is a jet fighter or a passenger jet, a turbo-prop transport or a 777 with turbofans. Apart from that passenger jets fly at much higher altitudes than fighter jets normally do, so the BUK altitude detector system will clearly show the height of any potential target further aiding identification.
The BUK it seems is equipped with all the technology required to confidently identify any plane, so it is not possible for a mistake to be made even by a fully trained operating crew, a civilian aircraft could not be targeted, as was possible before such sophisticated systems were in use.
Neither is it possible, Esa explains, for untrained personnel or “beginners” to operate the sophisticated BUK system, it takes one year to train the required team of 3 operators to a basic operational level, then ongoing in-service training is required to learn the intricacies of all the systems.
An accidental firing is not possible either, we are told, as the systems have to lock onto the target first, if it hasn’t and a launch takes place the system automatically self-destructs the missile. Nor is it possible for someone to impulsively press the launch button as it is locked with a key and as it is not target locked it will destroy itself anyway.
So the facts seem to indicate that it is not possible, as some speculate, that someone captured a Ukrainian BUK system and wildly fired it at some unidentified plane, nor would it be possible for an accidental launch to actually bring down any plane.
In addition, to those who say that “the Russians did it”, the inquiry reminds us that the Russian Air Defence Force has never shot down a civilian plane accidentally… so who did it? There is nobody, they say, who would be more disadvantaged by shooting down MH17 than the Russians and the Donbas Peoples Corp, what could possibly have been their motivation for such an act?
It’s a logical conclusion, MH17 Inquiry say, that as Ukraine managed to shoot down a civilian jet in 2001 in a strikingly similar situation that we should look in their direction for the suspects.
Who benefits? – Is the central question in any police or forensic investigation, so ask yourself “Cui bono?”