Ukraine did not hand over primary radar recordings to Dutch Safety Board and the Joint Investigation Team.
Primary radar can show military aircraft or might be able to detect a missile. While primary radar for air traffic control purposes might not be able to detect a missile, many of the radar systems in Ukraine which support SAM batteries are 100% certain capable of detecting missiles. This is what these are designed for.
Ukraine stated to DSB, after many months into the investigation and after DSB sent a senior diplomat to Kiev as a final attempt to obtain radar, that primary radar of Ukraine air traffic control was under maintenance. Military radar stations were switched off because no flights were planned.
For sure the air traffic controller of UkSATSE did not have primary radar coverage. This can be concluded from the telephone conversation with Rostov.
It is however totally unbelievalbe Ukraine military did not have primary radar stations switched on to defend the airspace over Eastern Ukraine.
There seems to be a good reason for Ukraine:
- to state there is no military radar recording available;
- to deny military aircraft were operating near the crash site at the same time MH17 crashed ;
Both statements are highly suspicious!
There are many issues with the statements made by Ukraine and I will discuss these here.
- Ukraine had two primary surveillance radar stations for air traffic control purposes which cover the area where MH17 crashed. One was destroyed in June 2014. The other was in maintenance at July 17. Ukraine did not tell DSB that one radar stations was destroyed. Or DSB decided not to mention this relevant information in the final report. Only after incorrect statements by a former Ukraine Secretary of Transport, the ambassador of Ukraine to the Netherlands confirmed one radar station was destroyed in June.
- Ukraine stated military radar stations were switched off because no military flights were planned at July 17. This seems very unlikely. The previous days there were many military flights operated. Many eyewitness told they saw military aircraft flying at July 17. An overview here.
- Some suggest military and civil radar were both using the same primary radar stations. As stated, the two radar stations which could cover the area where unavailable. However, as Ukraine was in war, it is extremely unlikely various radar sytems were not monitoring the area. Remember Ukraine claimed a Russian aircraft bombed Snizhne. It does not make sense at all to switch off radar in that situation
- It seems highly unlikely the sole primary radar station was in maintenance at the time MH17 crashed. It does not make sense to disable the primary radar in the middle of the day. And how many hours does the maintenance take? Did DSB request logfiles? When did the maintenance start? Did it start in the night? What was the reason for maintenance?
- It took the State of Ukraine 6 (six) months to respond to a letter sent by the families of MH17 passengers requesting for radar recordings. Only after Dutch PM Rutte stated he would request Poroshenko to respond, Ukraine finally responded. The letter was not signed by president Poroshenko, not by the the Prime Minister, not by the First Vice Prime Minister but by one of the four Vice Prime Ministers of Ukraine.
- Ukraine stated in a letter to the families of MH17 passengers that:
It is also worth bringing to your attention that all the available information on MH17 flight surveillance was provided to the Dutch Safety Board within the framework of the investigation of the crash in line with ICAO rules, the experts of which concluded that the Ukrainian Party had provided all the information sufficient for investigation materials on this matter.
This is not correct! Ukraine failed to report to Eurocontrol that primary radar were not operational anymore. See this post for details. For each investigation primary radar are very usefull. In 10 years, in not a single case in Europe primary radar recordings were not made available to the investigation team.
- Ukraine does have mobile radar stations which operate in the field. Many of those support Ukraine SAM batteries like for the S200 and S300 SAM missile systems. It is not known if these radar systems are able to record the radar signal for archiving purposes. This post from Sean O’Connor, Principal Imagery Analyst, Aerospace, Defence & Security at IHS Jane’s, provides a good insight in SAM coverage in Ukraine. Some radar systems mentioned in the article which support SAM batteries are:The 36D6 Tombstone mobile radar which has a range of 300km.
The 5N63S which also has a range of 300 km.
Other types of mobile radr units are for example the MARS-L built by Ukraine firm Aerotechnica. This mobiel radar station is equipped with both primary and secondary radar. The primary radar has a horizontal range of 150 km and a vertical range of 5 km. Unknown is if this unit is able to record radar signals.
Another example of a mobile radar unit is the 80K6 ISKRA. Iskra is part of the Ukraine State Concern “Ukroboronprom”. The 80K6 radar has a range of well over 300 km of targets flying at 10 km or below. This radar can be used to support surface to air missile batteries in detecting targets.
Some internet trolls defending Ukraine state radars were switched off to prevent detection or destruction. Destruction by what? There is no evidence for Russian aircraft or helicopters entering Ukraine airspace let alone these could destroy radar stations. More info here.
Ukraine Army has been using the 80K6 since 2007. A modernized version is the 80K6M which is not used by Ukraine Armed Forces.
It seems Ukraine is hiding something. We will find out sooner or later.