What weapon was used to shot down Ukraine Air Force Antonov 26 at July 14?

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The downing of an Ukraine Air Force Antonov 26 at Monday July 14 around 14:00 was a crucial change in the war . The Antonov was the first aircraft which was shot down while flying at an altitude out of reach for MANPAD’s . Previously several helicopters and fighterjets of the Ukraine Air Force were shot down by MANPADs. The Antonov was said by the Ukraine authorities to be flying at 6.500  meters.

Dutch Military Intelligence Service MIVD concluded the aircraft was shot down by MANPADS. (report here)

Dutch newspaper NRC concluded it could not be a MANPADS. This due to the distance the weapon flew (15 km) and the burntime (40 seconds). NRC concludes it must have been an air to air missile.

The aircraft shot down is seen in this picture in better times.

The downing of the Antonov indicated that the separatists had much more heavy weapons. The downing also means that aircraft flying at 10.000 meters or higher can be shot down, This because a missile able to reach 6500 meters can also reach at least 10.000 meters.

The Antonov was on a resupply mission towards the Ukraine-Russia border. It just had dropped cargo using parachutes and had 7 persons on board.  5 were able to jump from the plane using their parachutes. The registration was ’19 blue’ . The shot down was above a village called Izvaryne. A lot of info on the Antonov 26 can be read here.

So what weapon was used to shot down? On internet there are two videos showing the Antonov being downed. Can these help to identify the weapon?

Here is a video
And a 2nd video here (link)

Here another video

Some news on the shot down appeared in various sites like here, and here . BBC reported in the early evening of July 14 about the shot down. New York times reported here.


Ukraineatwar wrote several blogs about the downing. It initally stated a BUK was used from Russian soil. Later it stated it could also be a Pantsir.

There are two theories told by Ukraine auhorities of the cause of the shotdown:

  1. an air to air missile (as stated here)
  2. a surface to air missile (like Pantsir  or BUK)

Ukraine government claimed right after  the Antonov was shot down that only  heavy equipment not available to the separatists could have downed the aircraft.

Another theory is that a MANPAD was used and the aircaft was flying lower that 6500 meters.

The separatists claim the aircraft was operating from around 3000 meters and was in reach of MANPAD type Igla. Other news reports that the separatists claimed they shot down the Antonov using a BUK SA-11 stolen from the Ukraine army. And another claim by the separatists is that a Strela 10 was used.


Ukraine officials like Andrei Lysenko, Spokesperson of the Ukrainian Defense Ministr ,  state it was either a Pantsir SAM or an air to air missile type Kh-24 or X-24.

At July 16 Lysenko confirmed the separatists had Strela-10 systems in use. These could only be provided by Russia.

Lets discuss those three theories:

Air to air missile

The Ukraine governement states the aircraft was shot down by an air to air missile from Russia. At July 14 the Ukraine government stated the aircraft flew at 6500 meters out of reach for MANPAD so aircraft much have been shot down by more powerfull weapon.

Eyewitness say there was a big explosion and the right engine caught fire. (source)

At December 6 it was announced the pilot got a reward because of his action to save the live of his crew. The pilot died because of the crash. The Ukraine government stated the aircraft was shot down by an air to air missile.

The photo below shows damage.  Most likely the damage around number 19 is made after the crash by people. Other photos showing both left and righthand side of the aircraft do not show damage around the number 19 as observed by the photo below. Wondering why this damage was made!


Some more photos of the damage. These photos are screenshots of a video here.

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Surface to air missile 

A BUK SA-11 missile is unlikely. The missile has enough fuel for 15 seconds. The video clearly shows the missile does not decend and is even making turns after 15 seconds in the video. Also the trail of the missile is too small for a BUK. Also there is no fire the be seen caused by the explosion of the BUK missile.

The fire we see is the engine of the aircraft on fire.

A Pantir missile 57E6 can reach an altitude of 15 km and has a range of 20 km. The Pantsir also has a cannon which can reach 3000 meters.

This is a very interesting documentary on the Pantsir. It is in Russian. It shows the inside of the 57E6 missile used by the Pantsir. The image below shows the rods of the warhead.



And this image shows the rods after the explosion.




A MANPAD rocket 

The separatists had many Man-portable air-defense systems  (MANPADs). This is a simple to operate surface to air missile which is shoulder launched. The reach of a MANPAD is limited.

Charles Heyman, a defense analyst doubts the aircraft was flying at 6500 meters. “That doesn’t make sense. The higher you fly, the more it costs, and the plane would have had to be pressurized” according AP He suggests a SAM-6 was used.

A SAM-6 does not exist. A SA-6 is not a Man-portable air-defense system .So it is clear what Heyman meant.

9K38 Igla MANPADS  (SA-18)were used by the separatists according Ukraine. These can reach an altitude of  3500 meters max.

Also the BBC quotes Heyman here.

“However, defence analyst Charles Heyman, who edits a book called Armed Forces of the European Union, questioned the likelihood of the plane flying at high altitude.

He told the Associated Press news agency the missile was more likely to have been fired by rebels.

“I doubt the transport plane was flying at 6,500m,” he said. “That doesn’t make sense. The higher you fly, the more it costs, and the plane would have had to be pressurised. It was probably shot down using Sam-6 missiles owned by the rebels, which they have quite a few of.””

Justin Bronk confirms the 9K338 could be used against targets flying higer than 3000 meters. See his tweet here 

At june 6 2014 an Antonv 30 was shot down by a MANPAD. The aircraft was flying at an altitude of 4050 meters. It could be downed by a 9K333 MANPAD which reaches 4000 meters. Video here,

Here are a couple of videos showing Ukraine aircraft shot down by MANPAD


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cduRFLqRXv4 This video shows some twisted smoke trails


At July 15 ambassadors of several countries were briefed in Kiev about the war. One of the topics was the downing of the Antonov 26. A representative of the Dutch government attended this briefing. A report of this briefing can be read here.

So the Dutch government was informed about the safety situation of the Ukraine airspace  yet it decided to not inform airlines departing from the Netherlands and overflying the area.

Analyzing the altitude 

At the Russian forum mh17.webtak.ru someone did an analysis of the altitude the Antonov was flying at. The heigth is estimated to be 3600 meters.

Dutch Military Intelligence Agency (MIVD) concluded the aircraft was not shoot down by heavy surface to air missile system and flew considerately lower than 6500 meters.

The source of the screenshot below is the DSB final report as published at October 13, 2015. Page 239


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20 Comments on What weapon was used to shot down Ukraine Air Force Antonov 26 at July 14?

  1. You state “A BUK SA-11 is unlikely. The missile has enough fuel for 15 seconds”

    That is nonsense.
    Here is a video (start at 2:00) shows a SA-11 burning its fuel for 35 seconds until it is too far to distinguish :
    it is detonating at 42 seconds, likely close to its maximum range of some 35-40 km.

    So there is no reason to exclude a BUK SA-11 in this July 14 attack on a Ukrainian plane from Russian territory.

    A Pantsir, in contrast has a range of only some 18 km, and a burn time of 25 sec max.

    In the video provided, the missile is making a full 360 deg loop AFTER it already burned 20 sec, and detonates at around 39 sec into the first video.

    So it was NOT a Pantsir for sure, but it can still be a BUK SA-11.

    • interesting comment. My info of 15 seconds burn time is based on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buk_missile_system
      A missile will not drop out of the sky after 15 seconds. It has a speed of M3 so will continue to fly for a long time.
      Do you have any sources for your statements on burn for both SA-11 and Pantsir?

      • That 15 sec comment on Wikipedia has no source reference.

        I have not found any info on the burn time of BUK 9M38 or 9M317 missiles in any of the military data sheets. Seems the manufacturer did not think it was important enough to mention.

        Please trust your own eyes looking at that promotion video I attached, or similar open source BUK videos. Missile burns for at least 35 sec, consistent with the juli 14 videos.

        For the Pantsir, based on 780 m/sec average speed, flight time of the missile is about 25 sec to reach maximum range of 20km.

        • Rob:

          “Seems the manufacturer did not think it was important enough to mention.”

          More likely it is classified information.

          I highly doubt the actual maximum combat capabilities of Russian weapon systems are openly published.

          • I think I’ve seen someone citig the Ieltsin textbook saying that the burn time is 19 seconds (or 15-19 s). This is probably not classified. Check the book.

          • There’s something in p.58 of the BUK manual about various things happening after 3.7 seconds, 5.75 seconds and 18 seconds, but I can’t understand the machine translation.

          • Brendan, I checked with the book. The engine burn time is 19,35 ± 3,65 seconds (comma is the decimal separator)

    • sotilaspassi // March 21, 2016 at 4:04 pm // Reply

      That video is glued from multiple clips.
      To me it seems in the end it might show the smoke trail of the target vehicle that is being destroyed.

      Here we see a <20s flight: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m48xem3hZkg

    • Deus Abscondis // March 24, 2016 at 1:26 am // Reply


      the video appears to be in slowed down. You can’t take timings from it. Nor is there a 360° loop. There’s no reason to doubt the Almaz Antey burn time.

  2. The holes around the board number blue 19 seem to be very organized instead of a rather at random or specific pattern of a warhead.
    Could these holes have been made after the An26 came down? For example with a pick axe or other tool by some bystander to retrieve those numbers possibly to collect them as a war trophy, but for unknown reason was not able to complete that action?

    • I agree. It seems the damage around the serial number 19 on the fuselage was done after the crash by human beings.

      • Most probably holes around the number were done by scrap metal collectors. It’s quite common way for people in that area to earn some money (due to high unemployment rate). Looks like they were trying to disassemble the big wreckage into smaller parts using chisel and hammer for more compact and easy movement.

        • They look like machine gun holes to me, from someone who shot at the number on the ground for the fun of it.

  3. Re: Strela-10 Lysenko saying “These could only be provided by Russia.”

    Why? Ukraine has them and had them in use in the Donbass. Are we to believe they could not be captured or procured via corruption from Ukraine?

  4. Interesting article on this topic with comparative images of damage to the TU-22 shot down by Ukrainian BUK in Georgia in 2008.


  5. sotilaspassi // March 24, 2016 at 7:48 am // Reply

    Summing up my learnings vs AN26…
    -damage does not match with continuous rod warhead (not pantsir)
    -burn time & flight time anyway would seem to indicate large missile
    -from the video it seems the missile was launched from low altitude or from ground
    -missile flight does not make it look like BUK missile
    -from video it would seem the plane was flying pretty high as the plane is not clearly visible on the video
    -It would be essential to know the flight altitude, we can not trust just one source (UA) of altitude info.

    If the flight altitude was above 5km, both UA and Russia should have redirected all civilian flights, latest immediately after 14Jul2014.

    • sotilaspassi // March 24, 2016 at 7:53 am // Reply

      Initially I thought the missile missed AN26, turned back and hit on second try. But it could be that the warhead had done it’s job on first attempt and it’s just the missile engine that fly a circle without steering.
      (BUK missile can never turn back for another hit because it is not able to see the target if it flies past it and it already has used all it’s rocket fuel.)

  6. Liane Theuer // March 24, 2016 at 10:30 pm // Reply

    Do we really see a missile approaching the AN-26 ?
    It could be the whole time only the burning plane.
    It had been reported that the pilot of the AN-26 made a daring maneuver, so that the crew could parachute.

    Look at this video at 0:54 :
    The burning Super Corsair leaves a contrail, but as it flies very low you can see the plane, too.
    The AN 26 was higher, so you can only see the contrail and the fire, but not the plane itself.

    Or compare with the shooting down of the russian plane in Turkey :

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