Dutch Investigation Confirms Ground Missile Shot Down Flight MH17

All evidence of the tragedy points to Russian-made Buk surface-to-air missile

MH17 Reconstructed From Fragments

MH17 Reconstructed From Fragments

Screenshot by author, from YouTube

In July 2014, Malaysian Airlines flight MH17 disappeared over Eastern Ukraine midway through its planned route from Amsterdam to Kuala Limpur. Below waged a secessionist war, as Russian-backed separatists attempted to wrest free a chunk of Ukraine. The flight, at 30,000 feet, should have been clear of the conflict. Instead, an investigation by the Dutch Safety Board, published today, confirms what many had suspected since the crash: a Russian Buk anti-air missile shot the plane down.

Work done by open source investigators Bellingcat pointed to a Buk missile launch system, and even retraced the missile platforms' movements through eastern Ukraine, before it fired its deadly payload. The Dutch Safety Board spearheaded its own comprehensive investigation in part because of the large number of Dutch nationals who were passengers aboard the flight, and because Ukraine requested the Board's involvement.

Despite Russian theories regarding Ukrainian fighter jets, the investigation has always pointed towards an attack from a ground missile, though it did also rule out meteor impact and internal explosions as causes for the crash. The missile that the Buk launcher fires can reach altitudes of up to 80,000 feet, putting the airliner well within its range. Also telling, the missiles fired by Buk launchers leave distinctive bow-tie shaped fragments, which were found throughout the crash site

The Buk surface-to-air missile system is present in this region and is the only weapon system whose missiles have warheads containing, among other fragments, pre-formed fragments in the shape of a bow-tie in its warhead.


The combination of the recorded pressure wave, the damage pattern found on the wreckage caused by blast and the impact of fragments, the bow-tie shaped fragments found in the cockpit and in the body of one of the crew members in the cockpit, the injuries sustained by three crew members in the cockpit, the analysis of the in-flight break-up, the analysis of the explosive residues and paint found, and the size and distinct, bow-tie shape of some of the fragments, led the Dutch Safety Board to conclude that the aeroplane was struck by a 9N314M warhead as carried on a 9M38-series missile and launched by a Buk surface-to-air missile system.

The Dutch Safety Board report does not go as far as to identify who fired the missile, instead noting the make and model of the weapon and the area from which it was fired, which was reportedly held by Russian-backed separatist Ukrainian rebels at the time.

Watch a full, 20 minute video of the event as reconstructed from the investigation, below: