View Full Version : Russian Airliner Downed by Ukrainian Missle

5th Oct 2001, 01:30
Sources: Ukrainian missile downed Russian jet
October 4, 2001 Posted: 5:13 PM EDT (2113 GMT)

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Knowledgeable U.S. officials said they have evidence the Russian airliner that crashed Thursday into the Black Sea was shot down by a Ukrainian surface-to-air missile fired during military exercises.

"We believe this was a tragic accident caused by a military exercise gone awry," said a US official.

The Sibir Airlines Tu-154 with 77 people aboard was en route from Israel to Siberia.

U.S. officials said the plane was downed by an SA-5 surface-to-air missile fired from a shore battery during the largest scale Ukrainian military exercises in some years.

The plane started its journey in Tel Aviv, Israel, bound for Novisibersk, Russia. Officials in Israel and Russia said they feared the crash could have been caused by terrorists. An Armenian pilot flying in the vicinity said he saw the plane explode in midair.

Early reports showed the Sibir pilot gave air traffic controllers "no indication" of any problems.

Vasily Yurchuk, spokesman for the Russian Ministry of Emergency Situations, said the plane went down 185 kilometers (115 miles) from the Russian coastal city of Adler, near the Georgian border, The Associated Press reported.

A Russian emergency ministry official told Reuters the plane went down 190 kilometers (118 miles) south of the Black Sea port of Novorossiisk.

Reports said the wreckage of the aircraft was found about 280 kilometers (174 miles) from the coast of the Black Sea.

Ukraine denies its missile involved
Kostyntun Khivlemko, a spokesman for the Ukrainian Defense Ministry in Kiev, denied the plane was shot down by a Ukrainian missile. He said the missiles being used had a range of only10 kilometers, and the plane was more than 300 kilometers away.

Jane's Defence said an SA-5 has a range of 300 kilometers (186 miles)

Russian President Vladimir Putin also said he doubted whether Ukrainian missiles would have had the range to hit the plane.

Nevertheless, U.S. officials said they had "convincing" indications the plane was hit by a Ukrainian SA-5 missile.

Russia was observing the Ukrainian exercises, but not taking part, Putin said.

His administration was in communication with the Ukraine government, but it was premature to make any judgments, he added. A careful investigation would be needed.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, one U.S. official said there was prior notification by the Ukrainian government that airspace had been set aside for military exercises.

It was not yet clear whether the jet was inside or outside that area at the time of the crash, the U.S. official said.

There were reports the plane had stopped in Bulgaria en route to Siberia, but Bulgarian presidential press secretary Nerry Terzieva said the jet neither stopped in Bulgaria and nor entered Bulgarian airspace.

Israel, which operates some of the world's most stringent aviation safety measures, canceled all takeoffs from Ben-Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv immediately after news of the crash for fear it may have been a terrorist attack.

The move came before the Ukrainian missile theory emerged. Departure flights were allowed to resume four hours after the crash. In-bound flights had not been affected.

Armenian pilot describes two explosions
The Russian Transport Ministry and domestic security service said the pilot of an Armenian An-24 plane flying near the Tu-154 reported to Russian air traffic controllers in Rostov-on-Don, southern Russia, that he had seen an explosion aboard the plane.

The pilot, Garik Ovanisian, was quoted by The AP as saying: "I saw the explosion on the plane, which was above me at an altitude of 11,000 meters [36,300 feet] above the Black Sea.

"The plane fell into the sea, and there was another explosion in the sea. After that I saw a big white spot on the sea and I had the impression that oil was burning."

Russian officials said 51 of the passengers were Israelis and 15 were Russians. All 11 crew members were Russians.

An investigation would be led by Vladimir Rushailo, head of the presidential security council, and attempts to retrieve the flight's data recorders would be made.

A Russian search and rescue team was sent immediately to the site to look for survivors, as well as divers to find possible evidence.

Putin said on Russian television that "every shred of evidence" had to be retrieved from the crash site as "quickly as possible."

"We need to collect everything there -- get the experts examining everything," he said.

"If the depth allows, we need to get divers searching for the flight data recorder. We need it badly."

5th Oct 2001, 05:42
More about the SA-5:

"S-200 SA-5 GAMMON

The S-200 SA-5 GAMMON is a medium to high -altitude surface-to-air missile system. The single-stage missile has four jettisonable, wraparound solid propellant boosters, each of which is is 4.9 m long and 0.48 m in diameter with a single fin spanning 0.35 m from the booster body. The missile is 10.72 m long overall with a wing span of 2.85 m. The main body is 0.85 m in diameter and has a solid fuel dual thrust sustainer rocket motor.
Each missile battalion has one 320 km range P-35M BARLOCK-B E/F-band target search and acquisition radar with an integral D-band IFF system, one 270 km range SQUARE PAIR H-band missile guidance radar, and six trainable semi-fixed single rail launchers.

The missile's minimum range of 60 km is due to the booster burn time and jettison requirements, limiting the system to engagements against relatively large unmaneuverable targets at ranges up to 250 km. Guidance beyond the 60 km booster jettison point is by course correction command signals from the SQUARE PAIR radar with the S-200's own active radar terminal homing seeker head activated near the projected intercept point for final guidance.

The large HE warhead is detonated either by a command signal or the onboard proximity fusing system. When fitted with a nuclear warhead only the command detonation option is used."

Certainly a longer-range missile than the Ukrainians were claiming. Sounds like it was originally developed to shoot down B-52s.

Perhaps the Ukrainians were practicing shooting down Taleban hijackings. :(

ATC Watcher
5th Oct 2001, 10:49
A bit of speculation after looikng at the Map:

There is only one route from Tel Aviv to Russia across the sea and that is via KUGOS.
( I guess the Bulgaria connection is totaly out of the way and would make no sense for a Russian Airline to go and refuel there anyway..)
KUGOS northbound is controlled by Simferopol, a joint Ukrainian -Russina facility If I am not mistaken. Therefore this centre , if any, would know about the NOTAMS and the Military excercise.
The fact that another a/c below the Tu154 saw the explosion would confirm that both were in same area and that is most likely the airway , or an airway crossing, indicating they were not astray in a Mil area.
The Ukrainian Navy would be cautious is firing long range high altitude missiles that could end up outside of their FIR ( and they claimed they only fired short range missiles anyway)
The adjacent FIRS are ot that friendly and some are full of muslims activists at war with both Russia and unlikely to love Isrealis..
The Sibir flight is a regular one ...
If indeed the US intelligence confirms the Tu154 was downed by a SA-5 misile , and the Ukrainian Navy did not fire any, then someone else might have....
Just a thought, nothing else.
Speculation at this stage, but this is a rumour network after all....

5th Oct 2001, 11:21
More from the Washington Post:

Russian Plane Explodes Over Black Sea
All 76 Aboard Are Killed; Missile From Ukrainian Military Exercise Fired Nearby

By Sharon LaFraniere and Lee Hockstader
Washington Post Foreign Service
Friday, October 5, 2001; Page A01

MOSCOW, Oct. 4 -- A Russian airliner en route to Siberia from Tel Aviv with 76 people aboard exploded over the Black Sea today just after Ukrainian troops launched a surface-to-air missile in a military training exercise, U.S. officials said.

The missile launch was picked up by satellites equipped with infrared sensors at the Defense Department's early warning center at Fort Meade, the officials said. The commercial airliner, which broke into pieces and fell into the Black Sea, may have been mistaken for an unmanned target, one official said.

Russian ships rushed to the crash site about 114 miles off the Georgian coast of the Black Sea, but there were no survivors, according to news reports. Rescue workers recovered only dead bodies among the floating suitcases and debris.

The Ukrainian Defense Ministry denied its forces shot down the plane, which was carrying Russian immigrants who recently became Israeli citizens. Kostyantyn Khivrenko, a ministry spokesman, said the rockets were not fired close enough to the plane to hit it, or even in the plane's direction. "All the hits by the rockets used during the exercise were recorded by corresponding devices and reached their targets," he said.

The Ukrainian military was conducting exercises involving the firing of surface-to-air missiles, such as the S-200, known in the West as the SA-5 "Gammon," which has a range that would have been capable of reaching the commercial jet.

President Vladimir Putin of Russia said tonight that the plane was too far away from the rocket launchers to have been hit. He added that Russian servicemen had observed the exercise. "There is no reason why we should not trust them or Ukrainian defense officials," he said.

In Israel, Interior Minister Natan Sharansky said the Pentagon had told Israeli officials that a stray missile might have downed the plane. Still, he said, investigators were pursuing all theories, including a terrorist attack.

The plane, a Tupolev Tu-154 passenger jet, departed Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion airport at 9:58 a.m. local time. Security checks at the airport are typically very stringent. On board Sibir Airlines' weekly Flight 1812 to Novosibirsk were 51 Israeli citizens, most of them recent immigrants taking advantage of the Jewish holiday Sukkot to visit relatives.

Most of the other 13 passengers were believed to be Russian. There were a dozen crew members, also Russian, including an airline inspector present for a routine check of the pilots' skills. About half the seats were empty. After about an hour and 45 minutes in the air, the plane was over the Black Sea at an altitude of 36,300 feet.

At the same time, Ukrainian naval, air, rocket and artillery forces were conducting exercises about 160 miles away, in the Crimean region of Ukraine. They were firing antiaircraft rockets, including the S-125, which NATO has designated the SA-3; the S-200; and the S-300, which NATO calls the SA-10 or SA-12.

The S-200 has a range of 185 miles, flies faster than three times the speed of sound and can hit targets above 100,000 feet.

The pilot called ground control to report that "everything was normal," according to a spokesman for the airline. Five minutes later, the plane disappeared from flight controllers' radar screens.

One U.S. official said a satellite detected "the launch of a missile at almost precisely the same time the airliner went down." He added, "There are other indicators that also point in that direction." Ukrainian news reports said the airspace would be closed today in the area where the plane went down.

Another U.S. official said the plane was apparently hit by an S-200 missile. He said the missile must have missed its real target, and a device aboard the missile, known as a "semi-active seeker" sought out the passenger jet instead.

Sibir Airlines officials said there was no distress call from the plane. But in the Romanian Black Sea port of Constanta, a duty officer told a television station that he heard "Mayday, Mayday!" and then conversation in Russian.

The pilot of an Armenian airplane, flying 16,000 feet below the Russian aircraft, heard a loud clap and saw a flash, according to news reports. Interviewed in the Armenian capital of Yerevan, pilot Garik Ovanisian told the Associated Press: "I saw an explosion on the plane. The plane fell into the sea, and there was another explosion in the sea. After that I saw a big white spot on the sea and I had the impression that oil was burning."

In Moscow, Putin ordered rescue teams to search carefully for the flight data recorder. But officials said what is left of the plane is submerged in deep water and the chances of recovery are slim. Israel also sent a combined naval and air force team to the region to search for survivors. By late tonight, 10 bodies had been recovered.

In Novosibirsk, 1,750 miles east of Moscow, Sibir Airlines officials said they doubted either pilot error or a malfunction caused the disaster. Yevgeny Filyanin, a spokesman, said the 10-year-old plane was one of the carrier's best. It underwent a overhaul in December 1999, he said, and had 6,500 hours of service left before it was due for another.

Grief-stricken relatives gathered in the airports at Tel Aviv and Novosibirsk. Avraham Berkowitz, who heads the Federation of Jewish Communities in Russia and the former Soviet republics, tried to arrange counseling services for relatives. "The cause of this is all the heightened risks and tensions all over the world," he said. "It's an Israeli tragedy, and it's a Russian tragedy as well."

Israeli officials quickly set up an information center at the Tel Aviv airport, but there was little information available beyond a passenger list. Relatives made do with each other's company, and broadcasts on Israeli television and radio. They smoked and milled around a mostly empty terminal lounge, fitted out with a few white plastic chairs, running a gantlet of television cameras and news reporters.

Most relatives hurried in and out, declining to comment, but a few mustered a few words. One man paused for a moment on his way to his car. "My brother," he said in Russian. A distraught woman in a denim skirt emerged after confirming that her 19-year-old niece had been on the flight. "They just told us . . . we knew she was on the plane," the woman said, grim-faced, without giving her name. "Let's see if we can live through this. . . . Then we'll see."

The chief rabbi of Novosibirsk, Zalman Zaklas, told Israel Radio that the news had been a tremendous blow. "We are in shock and disbelief," he said. "We know some of the people on the plane. This is very bitter news."

He said the tight-knit Jewish community of Novosibirsk numbered about 15,000 and was thriving with children and nurseries. "When such a crisis occurs, it hurts everybody because we all know each other," he said.

One passenger on board was Tamara Peisakhov, 48, whose three grown children live in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba. She had come to Israel a few days earlier to visit them, as she did every six months or so, and was returning home to Novosibirsk, according to a family friend who did not give his name.

After the crash, Israel halted all departures for more than four hours, leaving some 4,000 passengers stranded in the terminals, on planes and on sidewalks around the airport. But soon after 7 p.m., the authorities gave the green light for the delayed planes to take off again.

6th Oct 2001, 05:57
The range of a surface to air missile is generally an effective range where the missile will likely hit the target as long as the target stays within the velocity, vector, altitude, maneuver envelope at that distance.

The missile's effective range will be approximately where it has exhausted its fuel and attained its maximum altitude. But after this point the missile will likely traverse a distance close to its effective range and may detect and home on a target on its way back down.

Somebody may have been short calculating the size of the danger area.

27th Dec 2003, 00:11
Russia, Ukraine OK Jet Victims Payment


Published: December 26, 2003

Filed at 11:29 a.m. ET

MOSCOW (AP) -- Ukraine and Russia agreed Friday on a compensation package for Russian relatives of 78 people killed in the downing of a passenger jet by a stray Ukrainian missile.

Foreign Minister Igor Ivanov and his Ukrainian counterpart, Kostyantyn Gryshchenko, signed the deal in Moscow, the Interfax news agency reported.

It did not say how much the compensation would be, but Russia's prime minister said it would be in line with the $200,000 per victim that Ukraine agreed to pay Israeli relatives.

The Sibir Airlines Tu-154 jet was bound from Israel to Russia when it crashed into the Black Sea on Oct. 4, 2001, after being hit by a S-200 missile fired during a Ukrainian military exercise. Most of the 78 victims were recent Russian immigrants to Israel.

Last month, Ukraine reached a deal with Israel that provides about $200,000 in compensation to each of the 101 relatives of the 40 Israeli dead.

Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said Thursday the compensation for Russian relatives would be comparable to that paid to the Israelis.