Podcast: Buk M-1 Missile vs. MH17. What Went Wrong?


Almost no one thinks the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was intentional. It’s hard to imagine an upside for Russia, Russian-backed separatists or Ukraine in blasting out of the sky an airliner full of civilians from nations not involved in the conflict. At the same time, the most capable, modern air-defense missile systems are not simple to operate. So what might have gone wrong that allowed a Buk-M1 missile to take down MH17?

And while that shoot-down does not appear to have been intentional, aviation and defense communities have been concerned for years about terrorists using man-portable air defense systems, or manpads, against airliners. How often have airliners been shot down, either accidentally or intentionally? And how hard is it to do?

I discuss these matters with Bill Sweetman, our international military editor, in Aviation Week’s latest Check 6 podcast. It turns out that the Buk system, designated by NATO as the SA-11 “Gadfly,” presents a particularly deadly combination of features (or lack of them). Listen to Check 6, and tell us what you think.

You can also read Bill's story from earlier this week, Buk Missile System Lethal, But Undiscriminating, and check out all of our MH17 coverage.

Discuss this Blog Entry 1

on Jul 29, 2014

Bill what world r u livin in ! Really !! Thanks for your thoughts,but I find when you point a rifle at something to kill it,it actually works if your a hunter. In the sophisticated world now of Laser guided technologies. Point and shoot has somewhat simplified some matters. Russia and other major powers ultimately have great small missiles now that they can hand out to whomever seems to please them, ultimately they should be honoring that fact, and accept responsibility for selling or giving(one or the other) that type of technology to some poor terrorist you are feeling sorry for. Your sincerity in this note, is so far outweighed by your unsympathetic sincerity for victims of this and the freedom for unabated free flight in civil aviation it makes me wanna puke.

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