MH17: exploded or taken down?
An interview with colonel general Y.Solovyov, former head of Special Operations Command (Moscow district Air Force and Air Defense) in 2002-2008.
- Yuriy Vasilyevich, what exactly do you think of the situation with the Malaysian MH17 crash? Is it possible to speak of any versions? And what is necessary to give a qualified experts' evaluation?
- Right now it's impossible to speak unambiguously. An international aviation crash investigation commission must see it all through. There are always possibilities of human factor, weather conditions, technical issues or external influence. The situation should be looked through thoroughly. Now it's just hard to say it was downed by someone. Deciphering the so-called "black boxes" won't help, unless the audio-recording box has a record of the last second of the flight, with a recorded cry of one of the pilots, who may have seen if it was a rocket or a jet.
- And such data has not yet been released to the public?
- Yes, officially it's closed. Besides, all the civilian traffic controller data must be studied thoroughly to know how the informational exchange between the pilots and the "ground" was handled. MH17 fell down just 51 km away from Russian border. Which means that this aircraft was on the borderline of having its control handled over from zone center "Dnepropetrovsk" to "Rostov". The controls had not yet been given over to the Russian center. This info should also be looked through.
- Is there any data on the traffic controller now?
- No, there's none, as its being carefully concealed.
- By the Ukrainian side?
- Of course. The civilian sectors radiolocation data must be studied. Nowadays all such planes are equipped with satellite navigation systems that are being guided in real-time by traffic control. Besides that, air lane radio locators exist that are also guiding the aircraft.
- Does Ukraine possess such locators?
- Yes they do. And they're obliged to publish such data. Military regional centers exist jointly with civilian ones, and also both Ukraine and Russia have their radar troops. This region is also densely populated so there are supposed to be eyewitnesses of the crash. During the investigation an expertise must be held of the bodies of the people who died on board and of the plane wreckage itself. To sum up I can say that there definitely was some impact, and I can't even deny the possibility that it was from inside the plane. Everybody says that it's been shot down. But how can one exclude the possibility of a bomb having been set there to blow up at some time or specific area? Nothing is certain until the international commission has studied the remains of the aircraft. The fragments are the things to judge whether it was blown up from the in- or the outside.
- In your opinion, is the version of that plane being shot down by one of "Buk" mobile launch vihicles plausible, and who could possess such an opportunity?
- Hard to tell correctly now, but I don't think the Donbass militiamen don't have such technology at their disposal. According to the data released by Russian Joint Staff there were a few Ukrainian "Buk's" in the area.
- So theoretically, could the Ukrainian army have hit that Boeing during an exercise?
- Do you remember the Russian TU154 that was taken down over the Black Sea by a Ukrainian C-200 rocket launcher? The altitude of that aircraft was just the same ? ten thousand meters.
- So you say that the level of preparedness of the Ukrainian army is rather low?
- Yes, it's not at some high level for sure.
- You probably heard the version of the MH17 taken by Ukrainian Air Force fighter?
- According to our data, there was something in immediate proximity of the aircraft seen by the radars. However it's too early to say if it were a "surface-to-air" or an "air-to-air" missile. The wreckage of the plane has to be studied and there's still no possibility to access the area.
- The American side is using low-resolution satellite data as proof that "Strela-10" or "Buk" was used in the area.
- "Strela-10" can't shoot for 10 thousand meters of distance, its maximum is at 3500-5000 meters. But the "Buk" complex has a wider reach.
- Many people ask a question why are the "black boxes" being deciphered in the U.K.?
- It's the decision of the ICAO and the Malaysian Airlines, but all of the ICAO members must be in place during the deciphering. Speaking about the black boxes. The data on them is property of Boeing and the Malaysian Airlines.
- One may get an impression that the investigation of the MH17 crash is being elongated.
- Of course, and it's being done on purpose either to destroy the wreckage during shelling of the area, or to toss evidence in form of missile killing agents.
- Thank you for your time, we shall wait now for the results of the investigation.