While satellite photos of Syria are available, BUK photos are missing

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There are many satellite photos available showing Russian helicopters and fighter aircraft stationed in Syria. Most pictures which are published are made by satellites operated by Airbus.

This photo is such detailled the type of helicopters can be recognized.


While the exact satellite which made this picture is unknown, it is likely either Pleiades 1A or Pleiades 1B owned by Airbus. These two satellites have a resolution of 50 cm. Good enough to see details like in the picture above.

Both Pleiades 1A and 1B had a view on Eastern Ukraine in the morning of July 17, 2014.

Date/Time UTC Satellite Elv Z.Azm Z.Elv resolution in meters

2014-07-17 08:01:16 PLEIADES 1B 46.0 138.2 57.6 0,5
2014-07-17 08:50:35 PLEIADES 1A 63.6 159.5 61.8 0,5
Till at least 09:00 GMT the weather was almost clear with no clouds

2014-07-17 09:38:40 PLEIADES 1B 24.9 183.7 63.0 0,5

Sunrise was at about 5:30 or so.

So the Airbus satellites would have been able to photograph the BUK TELAR vehicle while it drove initially towards Donetsk, and later turned around and drove to Snizhne. This according the narrative of Bellingcat which is only proven by photos, videos and some social media postings.

Many more satellites than just the Airbus satellite had views on Eastern Ukraine, Many Digital Globe satellites past the area. One of the customers of Digital Globe is the United States government.

It is hard to believe that in a state of war, those satellites did not make photos of the area. Remember the morning of July 17 there were hardly any clouds.

If a BUK had been around as Bellingcat believes, there must have been satellite proof for it.

As these satellites are commercial operated, the specifications are no secret. It does not make sense the United States claims they detected a missile launched from separatists controled area while they refuse to release satellite photos made by commerical satellites.

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4 Comments on While satellite photos of Syria are available, BUK photos are missing

  1. If there was a BUK, it was already in Snizhne on July 16. Also, the location of Ukrainian BUK’s are purposefully not photographed until after July 17, and in general the release of satellite data primarily exposes rebel positions and not Ukrainian ones. This is why no photos from the 17th are released, and why the photo from the 16th is behind a paywall.

  2. Liane Theuer // April 8, 2016 at 10:31 pm // Reply

    Even the Digital Globe picture bought from Bellingcat dated July 17/2014 taken at 11:08 a.m had an almost clear view :

    Apropos „paywall“ : That does not seem to apply to Bellingcat…

  3. Hector Reban // April 9, 2016 at 6:23 am // Reply

    If Pleiades 1A moved over Ukraine at 8:50 GMT, they could see truck with BUK on N21 about 5 km west from Zuhres.

    We could tip off Bellingcat to do a new crowd source operation to buy satellite pictures from Airbus.

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