Russian aviation expert Vadim Lukashevich: Zaroshchenske launch theory doesn’t add up
Vadim Lukashevich, who has previously debunked attempts to shift the blame for MH17 on Ukraine, commented on the Almaz-Antey press conference. He believes the theory that the Buk missile that hit the passenger jet was launched from Zaroschenske (allegedly Ukraine-controlled) has one important flaw.
According to Lukashevich, a surface-to-air guided missile’s radar “sees” an outline of a plane which is formed by it’s most visible features. The radar then guides the missile to the center of that outline. Should a missile fly at MH17 from the front (matching a launch south of Snizhne), its radar would “see” the engines and the front of the cockpit. The center of that outline would be the plane’s nose — right where the missile exploded per Almaz-Antey’s claims.
If, however, a missile would fly from the side (for example, the village of Zaroshchenske, south of the MH17 flight path, cited by Almaz-Antey as the probable location), the Boeing’s wide side would form the outline seen on radar. In this case, the outline’s center would be 30 meters away from a Boeing 777's nose, where Almaz-Antei claims it actually exploded. According to Lukashevich, in practice a rocket launched at an angle of over 45° to a plane’s course never hits the target’s nose.
Therefore, a rocket flying from Zaroschenske would have to miss by 30 meters to hit MH17's nose. However, it is much more probable that the rocket missing by 30 meters would go off above or below the target (dealing much less damage and probably allowing the crew to survive and land the aircraft). Missing the target by 30 meters and still hitting MH17's nose is against impossible odds, which makes the frontal (possibly Snizhne) launch theory much more probable.
This is not the first issue with Almaz-Antey’s press-conference. The claim that the rocket of the type that hit MH17 wasn’t in use by Russian army has been debunked by Bellingcat. Apart from that, the launch site claimed by Almaz-Antei strangely matches the Russian MoD sattelite imagery, which has been proven to be based on image dating.