Ukraine’s passenger plane was shot by a MANPAD?

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Ukraine's passenger plane was shot by a MANPAD? 1

Russia has launched a campaign to discredit the United States over the Ukrainian plane crash flying from Tehran to Kyiv. The plane disappeared from radar at 0248 UTC after taking off from Khomeini Airport at an altitude of about 5,700 feet. Flight radar data suggests that having taken off, the plane pulled up and did not show signs of attempts to lower for an emergency landing approach, writes The Institute for Global Threats and Democracies Studies.

Ukraine's passenger plane was shot by a MANPAD? 2
Ukraine's passenger plane was shot by a MANPAD? 3

The pictures’ analysis purports the liner was most likely shot down by MANPADS in the airport area. The plane wings’ damage mode, as well as engine damage mode, and the height typical for the use of MANPAD speak for that. Man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) are surface-to-air missiles that can be fired by an individual or a small team of people against aircraft. 

The most common MANPADS, however, are infrared seekers that acquire their target by detecting the heat of an aircraft’s engine. 

Ukraine's passenger plane was shot by a MANPAD? 4
Pic 1.
Ukraine's passenger plane was shot by a MANPAD? 5
Pic. 2

Picture 1, 2 show that the wings bear the marks of fragments-like damage. Similar damage was on the fuselage of MH-17 flight, shot down by Russian militants in the occupied territory of Donbas in 2014. Differences in the amount of damage are explained by the different ammunition. In MH17 case, the Buk air defense system was used. In Tehran, the aircraft was hit by Igla-type MANPADS with a high-explosive fragmentation warhead. But the same damages are at Ukrainian An-26 Air Force downed over Donbas on 2 July 2014 with MANPADS. The missile is induced by the heat emanating from the engine nozzle. The engines’ remains picture purports the damage that could not have been received as a result of a fire or its physical impact on the ground.

Ukraine's passenger plane was shot by a MANPAD? 6
Ukrainian An-26, striped with MANPADS

Picture 2 shows an engine part with fully torn blades made of titanium. The force direction applied to separate the engine blades indicates that it was exerted on the rear of the engine from the nozzle side. The engine case damage typical of fragmentation damage is also visible.

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PS752 engine
Ukraine's passenger plane was shot by a MANPAD? 8
PS752 pat of the engine
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The remains of a Russian Sukhoi Su-25 fighter jet in Ma’saran village near Saraqeb city, in eastern Idlib, Syria, MANPADS effect. Photograph: Abdalla Saad/EPA
Ukraine's passenger plane was shot by a MANPAD? 10
PS 752’s engine

Video footage (1) analysis demonstrates the fact of a fire on a plane. Thus, the fire on board was still during the flight. This contradicts Iran’s statements that the flight did not communicate with the flight service and did not report technical malfunctions. Moreover, Iran does not report the SOS signals, given by the aircraft’s crew.

The plane crashed 28 km away from the edge of the airport runway at .. with coordinates 35.501609, 50.925865.

The crash video suggests that the plane flew at least 5-7 km before hitting the ground from the moment it was video recorded. Thus, the crew had the opportunity to report on engine fires and emergency. The pilots had sufficient experience and flying hours (11K and 12K hours) to respond promptly to the incident and inform the airport control tower.

Boeing 737 aircraft are equipped with an engine fire extinguishing system, indicators of extreme engine temperature increase. There are cases of Boeing 737 engine ignition with their subsequent successful landing and 45 minutes flight to generate fuel before landing.

Consequently, the crew had the opportunity to turn on the fire extinguishing system (if it did not turn on automatically) in case of fire, as well as to inform the air traffic control of the incident.

These facts suggest that Tehran hid information on the crash causes and the fact of the crew’s assistance request addressed to the air traffic control service.

The following facts purport that the cause of the crash was concealed:

– Iranian ministry ‘s statement on technical problems as the cause of the crash even before the plane’s black boxes were found

– official refusal to give the black boxes to Boeing company

  • Iranian authorities statement that pilots of PS752 didn’t have communication with traffic controller in tower. It’s impossible to start a take off (to receive confirmation to take off).

The UIA, aircraft’s owner claimed the aircraft underwent maintenance on January 6, that is, two days before the crash. This also contradicts the version of technical problems on board. The aircraft was new, bought in Boeing company in 2016.

Iran announced its readiness to hand the boxes over to a “certain” country. Russia is highly likely to become such a country. In this case, the evidence is highly probable to be destroyed or corrected.

Russia has launched the PSY OP in order to accuse the United States of the plane crash, following the additional data on the crash published in media in the form of comments and official statements. Such versions are not justified, as Washington does not have air defense systems in Iran. The aircraft shooting by the air defense complex from Iraq also looks baseless and is misinformation. The fuselage and wings damage mode would then be like that of MH17 and Ukrainian (bigger).

Russia’s active attempts to impose responsibility on the United States in the information space are similar to Russia’s behavior after MH17 crash, when Moscow randomly threw many counter-version and initially false lines of inquiry to evade responsibility for the plane crash. Joining the information campaign to shield Iran, Russia becomes involved in PS752 flight crash.

The plane crashed at night of Iran’s striking US bases in Iraq. The US response was anticipated. 

There is no data allowing to identify the perpetrator of MANPADS use. However, it is safe to say that:

– the plane was shot down by air defense systemprobably MANPADS

– Iran deliberately hides information on plane crash causes and helps to hide the truth

– Russia is trying to think up an alibi to Tehran and make the most of the situation to blame the United States

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