15038 It was Buk-M1
The expert opinion of Russian military engineers: Malaysian Boeing over eastern Ukraine was shot down a land-to-air missile
The editorial office of The Novaya Gazeta received the strictly confidential document titled The Results of Peer Review of Investigation into Boeing-777 (flight MH17) Air Crash 17.17.2014 in the South-East of Ukraine.
As far as we know, this work of engineers from the Russian Military Industrial Sector (MIS) (including the R&D company that designs and manufactures the Buk missiles) should be sent to the Dutch specialists involved into the investigation of this tragedy.
The journalists are not experts in the area of aviation, ballistics and rocket engineering, so we cannot and do not consider ourselves to be entitled to appraise this investigation.
Owing to public prominence, we felt it necessary to publish this document uncensored and offer the expert communities, both in Russia and abroad, to study the arguments, facts and conclusions adduced.
We also invited all interested parties to publish preliminary results of their investigations on The Novaya Gazeta pages since we are sure that all the circumstances of the airliner crash must go public, at least, to stop a flow of speculation with regard to the tragedy. Now, it can be clearly stated that insinuations of Strelkov-Girkin, the ex-leader of separatists, about a specially "sent plane with corpses" exploded over Donbass, as well as the propagandist b-rolls of Channel One and The Komsomolskaya Pravda about a certain "Ukrainian battle plane", "secret eyewitness" and "Spanish dispatcher" is nothing but a lie.
Report of the expert engineers
1. Identification of the missile type
The most probable reason for the destruction of Malaysia Airlines (MH17) Boeing -777 in the air is the effect of 9М38М1 missile from Buk-M1 air defense missile system (ADMS).
The missile was identified based on the analysis of the aircraft damage type and the external view of strike elements seized from the aircraft structure.
1.1. Analysis of the aircraft damage
The study of photo materials from the Internet related to the air crash of Boeing-777 MH17 allowed the identification of damage to the hull outer skin and aircraft structural frame being typical for three fractions of striking elements. The most typical damages are presented in Fig. 1.
Fig. 1A presents an entry hole from the strike element of I-beam-shaped "heavy" fraction. Figures 2B and 2C - entry holes from strike elements of "light-1" (2B) and "light -2" (2C) fractions, having the shape of a parallelepiped.
1.2. Analysis of strike elements (of the payload)
As a result of study of photo materials from the Internet related to the Boeing-777 MH17 air crash, two types of strike element that consists of the "heavy" and "light-1" fractions are identified. The external view of the strike element of "heavy" fraction is presented in Fig. 2.
The eternal view of the strike element of "heavy" cut is I-beam-shaped. This allows unambiguous identification of the payload type - 9Н314М. Only the missiles of 9М38М1 modification are equipped with the specified payload.
1.3. Possible mistakes in the missile identification
While studying high-speed elements, which caused damage to the aircraft of Boeing-777 Malaysia Airlines (MH17), unreliable data might be used.
Various Internet resources provide the images of Buk ADMS payloads shown in Fig. 3.
Analysis of the photo materials shows that Fig. 3A illustrates a training (inactive) payload model of 9Н314, constituent of a 9М38 missile, and Fig. 3B - the payload model of 9Н314М, constituent of a 9М38М1 missile.
The payloads of 9Н314 and 9Н314М have several principal differences:
- each of these payloads is equipped with unique strike elements (in 9Н314 payload there are two fractions, in 9Н413М payload there are three fractions), which are different in their mass and dimension characteristics. The "heavy" fraction of 9Н314 payload is parallelepiped-shaped, and 9Н314М payload - I-beam shaped;
- the strike elements of "light" and "heavy" fractions in each payload type have different maximum and minimum speeds of expansion;
- payloads have individual zones of colatitude angle of strike element emission, and 9Н314М payload has also a unique distribution hodograph fragmentation flow.
Identification of images 3A and 3B will inevitably lead to false (unreliable) characterization of fragmentation field formation. The use of unreliable data with regard to the characteristics of the warhead missiles can lead to serious mistakes while assessing the type and degree of the aircraft damage, as well as the missile-to-aircraft meeting conditions.
1.4. Conclusions as to the missile type identification
The type of damages and the external view of the strike elements removed from the aircraft structure allow identifying the most probable type of the payload (9Н314М) and strike elements - the "heavy" fraction is I-beam-shaped, "light-1" and "light-2" fractions are parallelepiped-shaped.
The availability of these characteristics allows us to determine the missile type - 9М38М1, which is the main missile of Buk-M1 ADMS.
It is necessary to specify that for complete identification of the weapon, the chemical analysis of the material at the edges of the holes in comparison with the chemical composition of the strike elements extracted from different parts of the aircraft is required.
2. Determination of the missile-to-aircraft meeting conditions
The conditions of the missile and aircraft meeting were assessed on the grounds of the aircraft damage analysis, determination of the missile orientation in space (angles of approach of the missile to the aircraft in horizontal and vertical planes) and determination of the missile payload initiation point.
2.1. Assessment of damage to the aircraft outer skin
Analysis of damage to the aircraft outer skin shows that the payload initiation has led to the damages (initial and secondary) of the cockpit, damages to the left engine, left wing, left stabilizer block, as well as the left side of the tailplane.
The main aircraft damages determined based on the materials of Preliminary Report of the International Commission, as well as the photo and video materials from public sources are shown in Fig. 4.
All the structural damages to the aircraft by degree of intensity can be divided into three groups: intense damages, medium damages and minor damages (bound shot).
2.1.1. Intense damages
The destruction of the airframe load-bearing structure, multiple through-holes in the outer skin of the fuselage and damage to the internal equipment of the cockpit can be attributed to the intense damages.
The greatest damage is observed in the fore body, in the area of cockpit (the left side), cockpit roof and on the air intake of the left engine. The examples of the intense damages are shown in Fig. 5.
Assessment of damage to the cockpit roof is of the highest interest. Fig. 6 demonstrates a roof element behind the cockpit, which is presented in the Preliminary Report of the International Commission as an example of multiple damages to the airframe build caused by fragmentation.
The photos in Fig. 6 show the following types of damage:
Through-holes in the outer skin (roof), red ovals;
Through-holes in the transverse load-bearing elements of the airframe (bulkheads No. 243.5 and No. 254.5), blue ovals.
Destruction of frame No. 236.5 (right top photo).
White arrows show the direction of movement of the strike elements determined by correlation of the relevant through-holes in the outer skin and bulkheads. Analysis of this direction shows that the strike elements were moving along the aircraft structure.
2.1.2. Medium damages
The medium damages can include through-holes in the outer skin of the aircraft caused mostly at acute angles. The most of medium damages are in the fore body of the aircraft, in the area of the cockpit, the cockpit roof, on the skin of the left port and the left stabilizer. The examples of the medium damages are shown in Fig. 7.
Analysis of damage to the left port behind the cockpit (to the passenger door) is of the highest interest. At the slight distance (not more than 2-4 m) from the cockpit, the character of damage varies significantly – through-holes are of oblong form, which is typical for acute (not more than 20-25 degrees) angles of attack by strike elements.
2.1.3. Minor damages (bound shot)
The minor damages can include sliding damages (bound shots) in the outer skin of the aircraft. These damages are seen on the left port, on the left wing elements and the left side of the tailplane. The examples of slight damages are shown in Fig. 8.
Analysis of the left wing damages are of the highest interest. Fig. 9 shows numerous sliding damages to one mechanization element of the left wing.
The damage analysis of the mechanization elements (flap) of the left wing allows us to say confidently that it was mainly in the field of covering fragments. It is explained by availability of numerous damages (strike elements of different fractions, light and heavy ones), as well as the amount of damage (density of holes per 1 sq m, taking into account the distance from the missile initiation point and the efficient area of the element, is even higher than on the skin of the left port behind the cockpit).
2.2. Assessment of damage to internal components of the aircraft structure
The damage to the internal aircraft build elements was mostly analyzed based on assessment of the cockpit damages (the floor of the cockpit, co-pilot's seat, toe-break unit). Fig. 10 shows a part of the cockpit floor. It was also an example of numerous fragmentation damages in the Preliminary Report of the International Commission.
The blue arrows in the picture show the direction of movement of the strike elements in the area of the captain's seat. Analysis of this direction shows that the strike elements were moving along the aircraft structure.
Fig. 11 shows the elements of the cockpit equipment.
The damage analysis of the internal equipment in the cockpit shows that the main direction of the strike elements was from left to right (mostly along the aircraft structure), from top to bottom. Thus, the initiation point was closer to the left side, above the aircraft construction line. The prevailing direction of the strike elements is along the longitudinal axis of the aircraft.
2.3. Model of the strike element covering area
The results of determining the direction of the strike elements based on analysis of the main airframe damage are shown in Fig. 12.
The direction of the strike elements is shown by the blue arrows (Fig. 12). Analysis of these directions makes it possible to determine a course - the missile was moving to cross the aircraft course.
This statement is based on the following facts:
- the direction of the main flow of strike elements formed at the initiation of 9Н314М payload is perpendicular to the missile vector;
- the vast majority of visible damages to the airframe build is made by the strike elements moving along the aircraft structure.
Thus, the missile was moving crossing the plane vector, which is implemented only when shooting at the localizer parameter.
2.4. Determination of missile orientation in space
Orientation of missile in space at the initiation point of the payload is determined after analysis of the angles of aircraft course intersection in horizontal and vertical planes.
Based on photos of the aircraft structural elements and airframe design drawings of Boeing-777 (Fig. 13), an approximate reconstruction of the front part of the aircraft fuselage was made.
The results of the fore body reconstruction of Boeing-777 fuselage are shown in Fig. 14.
Analysis of the fore body reconstruction allows determining the angles of aircraft course intersection by the missile at the initiation point of the payload.
To determine the vertical and horizontal angles of the missile approaching to the aircraft, the model of fragmentation distribution flow generated by initiation of 9М38М1 ADMS was used. According to typical peculiarities of the locus diagram with regard to the strike elements distribution forming the area of severe destruction of the airframe load-bearing structure (so called "scalpel"), there was determined the missile vector at the point of meeting the aircraft - the missile was approaching the aircraft crossing its vector:
in the horizontal plane - 72-75 degrees;
in the vertical plane - 20-22 degrees.
The calculation results of the missile-to-aircraft meeting conditions also confirm the conclusion about the missile vector - the missile was moving to cross the plane vector.
2.5. Identification of the payload initiation point
To determine a possible payload initiation point, the following damaged elements were analyzed- the cockpit (mostly of the left side), the outer skin of the left port and the left semiwing.
Fig. 15 shows a possible location of the initiation point of 9М38М1 missile payload.
The payload initiation (blue point in Fig. 15) was at the distance of about 3-5 m from the outer skin of the aircraft, which is confirmed by availability of numerous small spots - "pock marks" and black spots of soot on the exterior side of the cockpit. Orientation of the payload initiation point: the left front above the front pressure bulkhead (shifted to the left side, above the cockpit glazing, in the area of the captain's windows). Analysis of location of the payload initiation point leads to conclusion that the missile was seeking the fore body having three "highlights": front pressure bulkhead of the cockpit, meteorological radar antenna and an ogival sector of the outer skin of the fuselage fore body.
The more precise assessment of the payload initiation point can be made only after full three-dimension modelling for the fore body.
2.6. Conclusions as to missile-to-aircraft meeting conditions
The type of damage, analysis of the direction of the strike elements and missile-to-aircraft meeting conditions (heading angles, payload initiation point) lead to the following conclusions:
a) The missile vector: the missile was aiming at the fuselage fore body (the area of the front pressure bulkhead and meteorological radar); the missile was moving to cross the aircraft course at the angle of 72-75 degrees in the horizontal plane and 20-22 degrees in the vertical plane.
b) The probable payload initiation point was in front of the front pressure bulkhead (shifted to the left side, over the cockpit glazing, in the area of the captain's windows). The distance of the initiation point from the outer skin of the aircraft is about 3-5 m.
c) The missile-to-aircraft meeting conditions calculated in cl. 2.3-2.5 may be implemented only while shooting at significant vector parameter.
3. Determination of a probable missile launch point
3.1. Determination of initial data
The parameters of movement and the position in space of the aircraft and the missile as of payload initiation are used as the initial data required to determine the probable launch point (area).
3.1.1. Location and movement parameters of Boeing-777
Location and movement parameters of the aircraft are taken from the published materials of the Preliminary Report of the International Commission.
The aircraft course - 115 degrees;
Speed - around 905 km/h;
Altitude - 33,000 ft (FL330), ~ 10 060 m;
The estimate coordinates of the aircraft downing point - 48º07’37.7”N; 38º31’34.7”E.
3.1.2. Location and movement parameters of the missile
Location and movement parameters of the missile are determined based on assessment of the conditions upon which the aircraft have met the missile (cl. 2.3 - 2.5).
The angles of crossing the aircraft course:
in the horizontal plane - 72-72 degrees;
in the vertical plane - 20-22 degrees.
Orientation of the payload initiation point: left front above the front pressure bulkhead (shifted to the left side, above the cockpit glazing, in the area of the captain's windows). The distance of the initiation point from the outer skin of the aircraft is about 5 meters.
3.2. Modelling a possible missile launch point (area)
The possible missile launch point (area) has been modelled under two options:
from the area of Snezhnoe settlement (Donetsk Region), appearing in numerous "investigations" held on the grounds of "true data" from the Internet and allegations that the pro-Russian fighters of the Donetsk People's Republic could have Buk ADMS;
determination of the hypothetic area, from which the calculated missile-to-aircraft meeting conditions.
3.2.1. The first option
The results of modelling conducted on the stand of the plant manufacturing the missiles for Buk ADSM (DNPP OJSC) clearly show that the missile and aircraft, if shooting MH17 from any area of Snezhnoe and Torez settlements (Donetsk Region), would be on opposite courses. Moreover, the angle between the paths of the aircraft and the missile in the horizontal plane does not exceed 5-20 degrees, and in the vertical plane - it was within 0-12 degrees (depending on the downrange from the launch point).
The meeting conditions at the limiting angles of course intersection implemented from Snezhnoe area are shown in Fig. 16.
Even superficial analysis of the conditions, under which the missile and aircraft were met (at maximum possible angles of course intersection) shows that in the event of the missile launch from any point in the area of Snezhnoe, the strike elements would hit only the fore body, and they could not damage the wings, engine and, certainly, the stabilizer and tailplane.
This statement is based on the following facts
The type of most damages to the aircraft structure (Fig. 16) cannot be explained by Internet-version of the missile launch from Snezhnoe settlement. The core discrepancies are as follows: these missile-to-aircraft meeting conditions do not explain:
- origin of the damage to the left engine, left wing, left stabilizer and left side of the tail (blue question mark);
- glazing of the cockpit on the right remained undamaged (at the co-pilot's seat). The strike elements would go through it at the speed of more than 2,400 m/sec (Fig. 17);
- no exit holes from strike elements on the undamaged elements of the cockpit right side (the red question mark).
Analysis of the photograph (Fig. 17) shows that in the area of the crash the right part of the cockpit and the front pressure bulkhead were integrated, but a part of cockpit glazing at the co-pilot's seat (right side) is unbroken. In the case of the payload initiation, oriented in parallel to the aircraft (within 0-20 degrees), the damages would be absolutely different. In case of this orientation of the missile, the main direction of the strike elements is across the aircraft structure. So, the missile payload would have cut off the fore body, and all the remained elements of the right port in the area of the cockpit would have numerous exit holes.
Thus, the analysis of the aircraft damages and modeled missile-to-aircraft meeting conditions allow complete exclusion of possibility that the missile is launched from Snezhnoe area, which is named in numerous "investigations" held on the grounds of "true data" from the Internet.
3.2.2. The second option
The possible area of missile launch has been estimated under the method of the inverse modelling with the use of initial data calculated in cl. 3.1.
The modelling results of the possible launch area are shown in Fig. 18.
While modelling, the reference missile-to-aircraft meeting conditions are taken into account, as well as maximum possible errors arising during missile aiming.
Modelling the process of 9М38М1 missile aiming at Boeing MH 17 to the point where it was hit showed that the intersection of the missile and aircraft paths at the conditions determined by cl. 2.3 - 2 .5 could be implemented only from a limited area - southwards Zaroshchenskoe settlement.
The area is around 2.5 km from north to south and up to 3.5 km from west to east. Limitation of the launch area from the west to east is due to the meeting conditions - angle of the aircraft vector crossing in the horizontal plane (75-78 degrees) and maximum vectoring errors (up to 2-3 degrees). Limitation of the launch area from north to south is due to the meeting conditions - by the angle of the aircraft vector crossing in the vertical plane (20-22 degrees), downrange value and maximum vectoring errors (up to 2-3 degrees).
The further estimates of covering the aircraft with fragmentation cloud in the vertical and horizontal planes confirms that the crossing of the missile and aircraft paths at the conditions that provide covering all affected areas with fragments is implemented from this limited area only. The vertical angle of the meeting is especially critical.
It is necessary to mention that it was the area of Zaroshchenskoe (according to the space reconnaissance data of Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation 17.07.2014 (No. 4, 5 see below) where transporter-erector-launchers and radars of Buk ADSM of Armed Forces of Ukraine were.
3.3. Assessment of impact of missile-to-aircraft meeting conditions on the order and consequence of the plane destruction in-flight
Estimation of both modelling versions shows that only the second version (the missile launch from Zaroshchenskoe area) explains the order and consequence of the plane destruction in the air.
As it is specified by cl. 3.2.1, while shooting on opposite courses, the main flow of the strike elements would move across the aircraft structure, which had to result in cutting the fore body off. Moreover, all the remained parts of the right port in the area of the cockpit had to have numerous exit holes, and preservation of cockpit glazing on the side of the co-pilot is impossible (see Fig. 16 and 17).
When shooting at the localizer parameter (from this area of Zaroshchenskoe), the missile-to-aircraft meeting conditions are fulfilled, the main mass of the strike elements will move along the floor related plane. Only this motion direction of the fragmentation flow explains the destruction of the bulkheads, as well as the hit of the left engine and the tailplane. Fig. 19 shows a model of the fore body reconstruction, taking into account the location of the severe damage areas of the load-bearing structure of the airframe.
The damage areas of the load-bearing structure of the airframe in the picture are blue. It was the destruction of the structural frame of the upper fuselage - bulkheads (transverse formers) from No. 212 to No. 382 and stringers (longitudinal) that led to the destruction of Boeing-777 in-flight. Simultaneously with these destructions, the front part of the fuselage with the cockpit became detached. It is confirmed with the plan sketches from the air crash place.
3.4. Conclusions as to the probable missile launch point
The type of damages, the order and consequence of the aircraft structural destruction in the air, as well as the modelling results lead to the following conclusions:
a) The available damages of the aircraft, the order and consequence of the aircraft structural destruction excludes a possibility of missile launch from any point of Snezhnoe area (see cl. 3.2.1).
b) The most probable area for the missile launch is the area southwards Zaroshchenskoe. Only in this area, the missile-to-aircraft meeting conditions could be fulfilled taking into account the damage to all airframe structure elements available on MH17.
4. Key results of peer review
During the peer review, analysis of the damage to MH17 aircraft, received as a result of impact with the external high-speed strike elements and study of the strike elements removed from the aircraft build is conducted.
The main results of the peer review:
- identified (specified) a probable type of missile, which initiation led to the destruction of MH17 aircraft in the air;
- determined the missile-to-aircraft meeting conditions at the payload initiation point;
- determined the estimate area of the missile launch.
a) It is most likely that the impact of 9М38М1 missile with 9М314М payload, which is the main missile of Buk-M1 ADSM, caused the destruction of the aircraft.
b) The present missile-to-aircraft meeting conditions, and as a result, the fragmentation cover field could be implemented only when shooting at the localizer parameter. The missile was moving to cross the aircraft course at angles 72-75 degrees in the horizontal plane and 20-22 degrees in the vertical plane.
c) On the grounds of the missile-to-aircraft meeting conditions, there has been determined the most probable area of the missile launch (2.5x3.5 km) located southwards Zaroshchenskoe settlement.
From the Editor
This report does not put the final stop. Moreover, it creates new doubts and new questions. The main ones are: where Buk-M1 was launched from and who did that. It is not clear to understand that since there was no one front line at that time, and the map of battle operations reminded a double cake with a number of so called grey zones, where everybody could drive in and return back with no problem. We invite experts to take part in the discussion of the published report.
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