Ukraine ATC UkSATSE controls both civil and military aviation. Does it explain missing radar recordings?

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The air traffic control of both civil and military aviation over Ukraine airspace is performed by a single organization: UkSATSE. (Ukraine State Air Traffic Services Enterprise)

This might be an explanation why radar recordings of both military and civil aviation are not available for Dutch Safety Board.

This presentation provides some insight into the organization of what is called Joint Civil-Military Air Traffic Management System of Ukraine (JCMS). 


That is an interesting aspect. Ukraine claims as documented in the DSB Final report on MH17 that it was not able to hand over primary radar recordings as radar stations of the civil ATC were in maintenance.

Later it was found out that a radar station was destroyed in June 2014. The other radar station was in maintenance.

Ukraine military also was not able to hand over primary radar recordings. According the DSB final report because military radar was switched off on July 17 because no military flights were planned. That is a very unlikely situation. Ukraine was in a state of war. Ukraine authorities stated they were afraid for Russian aircraft entering Ukraine airspace. In fact, a bombing of an apartment building in the town of Snizhne was blaimed by Ukraine on Russia. Why would Ukraine switch off the military radar?

So what if the primary radar feed for both military and civil aviation came from the same radar stations? That means that there was no primary radar coverage at all above a large part of Eastern Ukraine!

It also means that UkSATSE decided to keep the airspace open without having a clue on the activities of military aircraft.

This could lead to the conclusion that the reason for multiple upgrades of restrictions on flightlevels were based on the fact that radar systems were not available and not by safety concerns about surface to air missiles.


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17 Comments on Ukraine ATC UkSATSE controls both civil and military aviation. Does it explain missing radar recordings?

  1. Could the radar, that was in maintenance on 17-th, datect the alleged BUK missile or Russian fighter jet that downed AN26 ON 14 July?

    • I doubt if the radar was able to detect a missile. I believe the radar recordings are gone because it would show military aircraft near MH17.
      I believe those military aircraft played a major role in downing MH17. Likely not because they shot a missile at MH17.
      More likely those SU-25s or other type were a target for the BUK missile. The BUK might mistarget and hit MH17.

      Not sure if this is possible but could be.

      • I doubt it is possible. But what is possible is to use command vehicle with snowdrift radar and to redirect the missile during active phase of guidance. Missiles are not linked to particular BUK unit and command center has a priority in controlling the missile. TELAR radar is less powerful than snowdrift and missile will go for the stronger signal at active phase.

        • It is not considered in Buk design a scenario when enemy also has Buks. I doubt it was envisioned, particularly for older models

          • Then Ukrainian BUK systems possibly can hear each others communication as a form of spying. We must come to know if each BUK-system has a secured communication system against other BUK-systems. If not, the receiver of a BUK possibly can be built into a car and so Ukrainian BUKs could have been followed by ‘spotters’.

          • Antidyatel // February 14, 2016 at 7:38 am //

            Listening each other is not a problem. The issue is if command vehicle hooked to snow drift radar can redirect semi-active missile. First seconds missile goes without guidance. Then it will follow the strongest reflected signal, which is achievable by very powerful snow drift radar. Also command center is actually designed to control TELAR remotely. So if rebels got a BUK from Ukr army from a group if pretend to be defectors, the actual control of the unit stayed with Ukr army.

          • “It is not considered in Buk design a scenario when enemy also has Buks. I doubt it was envisioned, particularly for older models”

            The BUK’s possessed by Ukraine are legacy Soviet units that were previously fully integrated operationally with units in Russia proper. If they can no longer talk to each other electronically, it could only be from Ukraine changing the method of data link (anyone think UKRBORONPROM did that?) or encrypting it with a code somehow not possessed by Russia (seems farfetched given Russian penetration of Ukraine’s military and secrete services). Its unlikely that Almaz Antey removed backwards compatibility from Russia’s BUK-M1-2’s and BUK-M2’s. After all, one of the key selling points of BUK-M was its ability to control and guide firing stations of the prior air defense system called KUB.

          • Yes, apart from still encountered difficulty with identifying the exact missile used, the interlinking of BUK systems and relative ease of redirecting semi-active missile makes the permutations about actual organisers of the false flag quite diverse.

          • The redirection of the semi-active missile actually the plausible explanation of the only eye witness report with name of the witness attached to it. I remember that he claimed to see su-24 going at low altitude and then suddenly going straight up. Hence, both SU24 and hit by Buk missile can be part of the story and make sense of why Russian MOD even talked about Su24

      • The BUK missile has semi-active radar homing which a passive detector of radar signals is coming from BUK-TELAR and reflected on the target.

        Now imagine the SU-25 is at 2 km (just around the 2 km under boundary of Rostov radar) and MH17 is at 10 km. In autonomous mode the accuracy of BUK-TELAR in which it confuses two planes is 180 m. Now if we take arc degrees it might be SU-25 and MH17 have about the same coordinates in the air. But this means the crew first aimed at SU-25, nearer to the BUK, and then jumped over for the last 8 km to MH17. But what are the odds for this scenario?

        What is the total likelihood of this combined event? First the crew might have observed two points on the radar of the BUK. Remember they at least had a one-year course and were able to detect multiple aircraft. Now they definitely would not have shot on that SU-25 in this civil airspace.

        Only if MH17 and SU-25 flew at exactly the same spot on the radar to start with – and this only for a very short time – this could be the legitimate beginning of an ‘accidental disaster’.

        But think about this extremely rare event of flying together of a fast and capricious SU-25 at 2 km and a steady tracking passenger plane at 10 km. Also think of the number of objects in the sky at that moment. But theoretically it might be possible.

        Consequently, while aiming the radar on the SU-25 for a great number of seconds, both airplanes would diverge in the air. If not, the SU-25 was shot down first, since it became a bigger and bigger object. If they diverged the crew would have to choose one of the planes to follow.

        But SU-25 has a very different radial speed which will be capricious, compared to the stable track of MH17. Remember, this was an experienced crew. So the likelihood of confusion is minimal.

        Would they really be so crazy as to aim at one of the ‘split planes’ if they realized one of them must be a civilian aircraft? This is not about 180 meter precision but about continuing aiming as a form of Russian roulette. From SU-25 to MH17 is 8 km. This total chance must be minimal or intentional.

        Now, only for the moment I take the witness statements as factual for the presence of SU-25s during the shooting down of MH17. If I am allowed I would like to present another unproven scenario. It is not my favorite, but it involves SU-25s and avoids all shortcomings of the previous scenario:

        Step 1: Ukraine wanted to shoot down a civil airliner as a false flag.

        Step 2: They first sent a number of SU-25s to Southeast Donetsk and at then they let their BUK shot down a passenger aircraft, as if the separatists aimed on the SU-25s.

        It is a heavy accusation but I only mean it fits the scenario better.

        • Until now there is no proof MH17 was shot down intentionally. I hope to convince you this downing was no accident. Elsewhere I give more arguments this passenger plane must have been shot intentionally.

          Remember in our former scenario the BUK missile with semi-active radar homing lost the SU-25 at 2 km and continued its way to MH17 at 10 km. Our assumption was an experienced crew would have been shocked by perceiving another plane hiding behind the alleged SU-25. Knowing it must be a civilian plane on much higher altitude they definitely would have stopped aiming the radar at MH17.

          Also remember missiles accidentally program to the next plane in hiding only with active radar homing, which old BUK missiles do not have. These modern missiles lock in on the next target, which they do not perceive as different. But this only happens after a miraculous escape maneuver of SU-25, which until now was the biggest object. Then the advanced missile locks in on MH17.

          But with semi-active radar homing purely it is a matter of good luck in a shot gun approach to impact on MH17 within several meters, after first blindly bridging 8 km through the air. Remember MH17 meanwhile was in a very different place in the air. This probability must be about zero.

          What means MH17 definitely must have been aimed at intentionally by the crew of the BUK all the time. IMO I have proven MH17 has been shot down intentionally (Q.E.D.)

          Now, what is the product rule of independent chances for a crew of a separatist BUK, which not intentionally would shoot down a passenger airliner, times the chance Ukrainian SU-25 are in the air? This chance is almost zero because they definitely would not aim at MH17 after losing the SU-25. This is the scenario of former comment.

          Secondly, what is the product rule of independent chances for a crew of a separatist BUK, which INTENTIONALLY wanted to shoot down a passenger airliner, times the chance Ukrainian SU-25 were in the air? Then separatists would try to blame the Ukrainians of shooting down MH17 with machine gun fire. This would be a much bigger chance because of a covariate, but the problem is, we already concluded separatists did not have a motive to shoot down an airliner. So this scenario definitely must be zero.

          Thirdly, what is the chance the crew of a Ukrainian BUK would shoot down a passenger aircraft times the chance Ukrainian SU-25s were in the air? Now we have the intention (the motive) of Ukraine as covariate which makes intentional aiming possible. This would be a dependent chance with high probability.

      • Coming back to my original question. Ukrs claimed that radar was on maintenance only on July 17. AN26 was shot down allegedly at above 6000 m on July 14. That event was critical for all issues with closing airspace. Radar was supposedly working. Why DSB is not interested with that event and not requesting raw data from primary radar on July 14? That can give certain answers on the events that followed, isn’t it?

        • Far more interesting would be getting full information from radar on the SU-25M1 shootdown at 18:55 pm on July 16, 2015 at Hryhorivka.

          • That one too, as they claim radar was only on maintenance in 17 July. And they were so sure that Russian plane was involved. But again fantastic lack of interest from DSB.

          • Liane Theuer // February 14, 2016 at 12:28 pm //

            Andrew and Antidyatel – you are right !
            It would be very important to get the information on both incidents.
            It would also be a test of Kiev´s willingness to cooperate.
            But, unfortunately, not even the Dutch opposition has asked for it.

  2. Ukraine authorities stated they were afraid for Russian aircraft entering Ukraine airspace. In fact, a bombing of an apartment building in the town of Snizhne was blaimed by Ukraine on Russia. Why would Ukraine switch off the military radar?
    – In case of war military radars will become a primary target for Russian airplains, thus it make sense to have them switched off until invasion.
    At the same time, Ukrainian military could recieve radar data from a foreign sources to have its own radars hidden from Russians. F.i., AWACS flying in Black Sea could be a source of this kind of data.

  3. Liane Theuer // February 12, 2016 at 1:45 pm // Reply

    „Civil-military coordination on operational level is provided by UKRAEROCENTER, ATM Centers with appropriate authority bodies of Armed Forces of Ukraine, law enforcement bodies, other military units, ATS units and departmental ATC units to address operational issues during planning phase and airspace use activities in irder to ensure safety and effectiveness of air traffic during simultaneous civil and state flights, other airspace use activities and to control the order and compliance of Ukrainian airspace use rules.
    Civil-military coordination within Integrated civil-military ATM system (ICMS) is provided by UKRAEROCENTER and ATM Centers to resolve the operational issues concerning air traffic management and airspace management.
    Civil-military coordination during ATS/ATC at common-use aerodromes provided by joint group for flights control (JGFC). Civil and military ATCOs of JGFC provide safety and effectiveness of air traffic during simultaneous civil and state flight operations of civil and state aircraft in the same airspace.
    Integrated civil-military air traffic management system (ICMS) includes:
    Dnipropetrovs’k RB

    ATC system in use Dnipropetrovs’k : INDRA, Spain, “AIRCON 2100” , ACC, APP, TWR since FEB 2014
    ATC + FIS service: GND to UNL within south-west of Dnipropetrovs’k FIR, from FL265 to UNL north and south-east part of Dnipropetrovs’k FIR from FL265 to UNL
    Modernization and installation of ATM systems in UKDV ACC (July 2013) and UKHH APP

    About the commant chain :
    „Gradually Ukraine was closing airspace, it was a necessity, and the Defense Ministry made the decision to close airspace to flight level 260, which is around 7,900 meters, but for additional safety the State Aviation Service and UkSATSE introduced restrictions for 9,750 meters,” he said at a press conference in Kyiv on Tuesday devoted to the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 crash in the summer of 2014.“

    Eurocontrol only reacted to Notams :

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