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article imageOp-Ed: Malaysian Airliner investigation says plane shot down

By Robert Weller     Sep 9, 2014 in Science
Amsterdamsche Veld I - The Dutch government has released a report on its investigation of the downing of a Malaysian Airliner, at a cost of 298 lives, though it admits the presence of Russian-backed forces has prevented experts from determining exactly what happened.
The report, which does not assign blame for the destruction of the aircraft, said the cockpit recorder and other instruments indicated the crew had no warning that the plane was about to be hit by a missile.
“Flight MH17 with a Boeing 777-200 operated by Malaysia Airlines broke up in the air probably as the result of structural damage caused by a large number of high-energy objects that penetrated the aircraft from outside,” the report said.
The New York Times said this means a missile designed to detonate before reaching its intended target, sprayed the Boeing 777 with sharp metal fragments, a sort of aerial anti-personnel bomb.
“No aural warnings or warnings of aircraft system malfunctions were heard on the cockpit voice recording … Crew communication gave no indication that there was anything abnormal with the flight.”
That means there was no indication the crew had any idea what happened to them.
Both engines were running at cruise power.
Pieces of the wreckage showed the fuselage had been hit in numerous places, as would be a result of a surface-to-air missile. The distribution of the wreckage over a wide area indicated it broke up in the air.
The BBC reported on Monday that witnesses said they had seen a Russian Army missile unit in the area where the Boeing 777 was brought down on the flight from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur.
The Guardian reported that the investigative journalism website Bellingcat has published photos it said suggested the anti-aircraft missile involved in the attack was fired by a Russian unit, the 53, based in the city of Kurskrd Buk brigade.
"The new information presented in this article adds to the existing evidence that the Russian government bears responsibility for the tragedy," it said.
Critics of Russian President Vladimir Putin say he has refused to pull back forces from the crash area to prevent the Dutch investigators establishing beyond a doubt that his forces bought the jet down. Putin finally agreed to a cease-fire in the past few days, too late for investigators to finish their work.
And the region is still not safe for them. They released what they have been able to learn so far Tuesday morning.
The Dutch safety board, and Malaysian and Australian officials, say they will return to the area when it becomes safe.
"The DSB will not make any statements with regard to apportioning blame or liability, and these issues will not form part of its investigation,” the Netherlands board said on its web site.
"Once a secure and stable situation has been established, the DSB will visit the location. This is in order to verify the results of the investigation from other sources and to conduct a specific search for wreckage and other vital pieces."
Other evidence that points to Russian involvement are intercepted messages from rebel units, as well as a Twitter posting claiming the insurgents had shot down a warplane the morning the Boeing crashed. The claim was taken down after it became clear a civilian airliner had been shot down.
The Russian-backed rebels had already shot down Ukrainian warplanes and helicopters.
The International Civil Aviation Organization is unlikely to release its findings for a year or more.
The U.S. government has said evidence shows the jet was shot down by a Buk M1 Self Propelled Air Defense System, also known by its NATO reporting name of SA-11 “Gadfly.”
Wikipedia quotes several ballistic experts as saying a surface-to-air missile was the most likely cause, countering Russian claims that a Ukrainian warplane was involved.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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