Legitimate questions and answers

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There are many questions to be answered. Some are totally bullshit, some are legitimate. This post will try to find answers.

0. How come the US says has prove MH17 was shot down but fail to deliver evidence to the public?

Probably the most asked questions. The US claimed hours after the crash it had been shot down by a missile which was launched from rebel controlled area. However this claim was not proved by satellite photos not any other intel. Basically the US says that it must be logical judging from social media publications by the rebels.

There can be a couple of reasons the US does not want to share intel:

1. The US does not want Putin to loose face. If the world is shown evidence Putin is responsible that would have political consequences for Putin. Then Putin would not cooperate at all. Investigation teams still need access to the crash site. Putin can help provide that access. Putin also is important for the ISS space station, for helping Obama fight terror in the Middle East. Do not forget Russia has a lot of oil and gas and the EU depends on Russian gas. If Putin is pushed into a corner by releasing intel in public he has nothing to loose and will only be more aggresive. He might stop delivering gas and oil. The result is an increase in price of fuel. Not something the voter in any country will like.

Russian gas is very important for Ukraine and many European countries. If Putin decides to stop delivering gas many people will be in cold. So that threat could be enough to not release intel information like satellite photos. Likely Putin and Obama made some kind of deal.

At September 26 an agreement was signed between Ukraine and Russia to continue delivering gas for the 2014/2015 winter.

So polital reasons are very likely the reason the public will not see any hard evidence. 

2. They do not have any intel. Could be. At the moment of the crash there were clouds. Maybe a satellite was not able to see the launch. However I am sure the US has satellites who are able to make infrared photos. In 2001 the US detected missle lauches which shot down a Siberia Airlines Tu154. Below a quote taken from the archive of PPrune.org

The missile launch was picked up by satellites equipped with infrared sensors at the Defense Department’s early warning center at Fort Meade


Ron Paul, a former US president candidate said in a radio interview that it is unlikely the US have not monitored what happened. See this being told in this video at Russia Today.


3. The US do not want to show in public what their intel capabilities are. That is a likely reason. It is likely NATO and EU leaders have seen evidence. The US has satellites which are able to see any heat or other signal like radion frequencies  coming from a missle launch. They are also able to monitor radio frequencies used by missle guidance systems.

4. The launch never happened. The story about a missile is fake. Very very unlikely but cannot be ruled out completely. Damage to the plane clearly indicates a surface to air missle was used to shot down MH17.

5. Ukraine is responsible for the downing of MH17. In that scenario it must have been a BUK or other surface to air missile. US obviously does not want to betray a potential new member of the EU and NATO.

1 Why does the preliminary report of the Dutch Safety Board does not say anything about the cause? 

A preliminary report of an civil aviation crash must be presented within 4 weeks after the crash happened. This is mandatory by the ICAO of which almost all countries are member of. The preliminary report sums up the circumstances of the crash. Was the crew certified, was the plane in a good technical condition, what has the weather etc etc. Preliminary reports can be as small as a single A4. The report (2 x A4 in size_ of the crash of a LAM Mozambique Embraer 190 which killed 33 people can be read here. 

The Dutch Safety Board who is responsible for investigation of the crash was allowed more time for publication because of the difficult circumstances. This is the first time ever a civil aircraft crashed in a war zone.

The preliminary report does not conclude on the cause of the accident yet. A lot of time is needed for a detailed investigation. This is not something unique for MH17. Each and every final report takes at least one year to finish. Remember the crash of the Afriqiyah A330 at Tripoli airport. The final report was presented almost three years later due to the situation in Libya (fighting)

It is very likely that the final report which will be available around summer 2015 does not mention who is responsilble for the downing of MH17. If the cause is a missile, the conclusion will probably just be that. The team might find fragments in bodies of passengers and crew.

The prosecution team lead by the Netherlands (Openbaar Ministerie) is responsible for finding out what happened, who did it and what was the weapon. Other teams take part in this research as well.

2. What are the green parts seen on debris of the aircraft?

All aircraft get during the manufcturing a green layer of paint. This primer protects the fuselage and is used for better attachment of the paint to the fuselage. It is not very likely this green paint is of a missile.

3. Is Russia taking part in the investigation into the cause of the crash?
Yes. The Russian Safety Board investigation aviation accidents is called Interstate Aviation Committe (IAC). In Russian language it is abreviated to MAK. On this page IAC confirms it takes part in the investigation.

4. Why is the transcript of the cockpit voice recorder not released?
By Dutch law it is not allowed to publish the recording of what has been said in the cockpit. This is because of privacy reasons. Relevant conversation is documented in the preliminary and final reports.

5. What about that member of the OCSE who said something like ‘cockpit looked like it was hit by machinegun’

Michael Bociurkiw (a Ukranian Canadian) of the OSCE group of monitors at his daily briefing described part of the plane’s fuselage dotted with “shrapnel-like, almost machine gun-like holes.” He did his statement in an interview which can be seen here. He litterly said:

“There have been two or three pieces of fuselage that have been really pockmarked with what almost looks like machine gun fire, very, very strong machine gun fire that has left these unique marks that we haven’t seen anywhere else. We have been asked, for example, have we seen any examples of missile. Well, no we haven’t. That’s the answer. And even if it was there, we don’t have those trained eyes to pick that up but now there are experts here who would be able to.”

The OSCE does not have any experience on missle not machine gun damage. Any non-informed person would probably think the cockpit panel was hit by machine gun fire.

In the same interview Michael Bociurkiw said something else interesting. 

Going almost daily to the cockpit scene that has been at its stark the way in terms how it has been changed. When we first arrived there again a horrifying sustantion of death the cockpit appears to have slammed down to earth. It was pretty much intact. Over the days we have seen that the piece of cockpit kind of spread out like this (spreading out gesture). Day two I believe it was there were actually many men hacking into with a power saw. They could have been actively in body recovery or human remains recovery we do not know. But even since then I would say in the last three days it has been spread out even more.

This is a photo showing people working with a power saw. Not clear if they are working near the cockpit

6. Why did the Dutch investigators not enter the crash site in the first two weeks of September when the area was quiet? 

During the first two weeks of September it was relative quiet at the crash site. No fighting, no shelling. The Dutch team could return and search for bodies and investigate the crash.

The Dutch require a safe area. They need a cease fire. The Dutch do not talk directly to the rebels controlling the area. That would be a seen as a formal recognition of the Donetsk People Republic. The rebels demand a written request addressed by the Dutch the the DPR. The Dutch addresses the rebels differently. So the rebels refused entry.

This is a screendump of Dutch teletekst stating the rebels received 12 letters from the Dutch. But the letter showed insufficient recognition for the Donetsk republic.



7. Why were people using power saws cutting large parts of the aircraft?
Many reports in the press of uniformed people cutting the aircraft with heavy equipment. Parts are reported to have been removed. Some parts of the aircraft were used as a check point by the rebels.

A reason could be the rescue team were looking for bodies. Another reason could be to get rid of evidence. More on this here. and on the Daily Mail. ABC news has a video.

8. Why signed the Netherlands and other countries an agreement to keep results of the investigation secret? 

The Dutch are involved in two investigations. The first has the goal to find out the cause of the crash. The investigation is lead by the Dutch Safety Board. They are not investigation who is responsible for the crash.

The other investigation is a criminal one. The goals is to bring the offenders to court. The Netherlands is working together with Belgium, Australia, Oekraine and Malaysia. All except Malaysia signed a non-disclosure agreement which allows a single country to not release specific information into the public. The main reason for this is that for example Malaysia still has a death penalty. For instance the Dutch justice do not want that certain evidence found out by the Dutch is being used in a court case which could lead to the death penalty. A press release about this joint investigation is published here.  Details on the non-disclosure here in Dutch language.

9. Why are parts of the crashsite burned by fire days or weeks after the crash?

Jeroen Akkermans, a RTL journalist from the Netherlands has been several times to the crashsite. He made a lot of photos. Days after the crash he noticed a field. Weeks later the field was partly burned. What could be the reason?



The most likely cause of this is shelling by either the Ukraine or rebels. In the weeks after the crash many shellings took place.

Another reason could be spontaneously burning because sunlight beamed by glass ignited grass. Third reason could be farmers burning their fields which is common practises in this part of Ukraine.

10. Can a BUK SA-11 system operate with a single vehicle like the BUK seen in several places in East Ukraine?

Normally a SA-11 battery operates with several vehicles. A Snow Drift radar, a loader to load missles and a couple of lauchers.  The Snow Drift identification friend-or-foe (IFF) system and non-cooperative target recognition (NCTR). It is able to find out if a target is a friendly or enemy plane. NCTR recognises jet engine modulation, or the analysis of beats and harmonics in the radar return that are caused by engine fan or compressor blades.

A launcher or TELAR can operate on its own. The Snow Drift radar is easy to spot by enemy aircraft and can be destroyed. In that case the TELAR can operate on its own and shot missiles. However the TELAR radar does not have the IFF and NCTR functions. The radar screen basically shows any aircraft detectable by radar. It does show altitude and speed relative to the radar.

So yes, a BUK can operate on its own.

11. Did the Dutch/Australian/Malaysian team which was at the crash site the first 6 days in August able to search at the cockpit section?
Yes. According the maps published by the Dutch government access was allowed. Photoproof here. 

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