Clearing the Air (MH17 Shootdown)
At an altitude of 33,000 feet, it is virtually impossible to tell the difference between a twin-engine Boeing 777 and a twin-engine Antonov AN-26 with the naked eye. That aircraft is 6.25 miles away……IF it is directly overhead. If it is not overhead, that aircraft is even further away (think of the hypotenuse of a triangle). However, the two aircraft couldn’t be more dissimilar, having only in common that they can fly, have twin engines, and can attain 25,000 feet or more of altitude.
The Antonov AN-26 is a twin-engine turbo-prop cargo plane, just a tad over half the size of a C-130 Hercules. The fuselage is 9 ft wide by 78 ft long and the wingspan is 96 ft from wingtip to wingtip. It has a maximum passenger seating capacity of 40. It has a maximum takeoff weight of 52,900 lb, cruises at 237 knots, and has a service ceiling of 24,600 ft……..a full 8,400 ft LOWER than Malaysian Air flight 17 was flying at when it was shot down. Here is a picture of an AN-26 below (click on image to view enlarged copy):
The Boeing 777-200ER is a twin-engine jetliner which dwarfs an AN-26. Its fuselage is 20ft wide by 209 ft long with a 199 ft wingspan. It has a maximum passenger seating capacity of 440. It has a maximum takeoff weight of 656,000 lb, cruises at 490 knots, and has a service ceiling of 43,100 ft. Here is a picture of a Boeing 777-200ER (click on image to view enlarged copy):
In other words, its fuselage is more than twice as wide and it is more than twice as long. It seats ELEVEN times as many passengers. It has more than double the wingspan. It has SIX TIMES the maximum takeoff weight. It cruises at more than double the speed, and it has a service ceiling 17,500 ft higher than the AN-26. You have to be either brain dead or very drunk to confuse the two aircraft with each other.
Furthermore, the SA-11 “BUK” is a very sophisticated system with advanced targeting capabilities. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buk_missile_system). THERE IS NO WAY IN HELL THAT A WELL TRAINED OPERATOR WITH A CONSCIENCE could fail to differentiate between a military transport flying at 230 knots with a service ceiling of 24,600 ft, and a CIVILIAN airliner, 4 times the size and twice as fast, flying at another 30% higher than the AN-26. The targeting system software should be able to tell the difference between an aircraft based on a civilian airframe….like the KC-135 Stratotanker and the Boeing 367-80…and a purpose-built military airframe like a fighter jet, or for that matter, an Antonov AN-26. And any skilled operator would be able to tell the difference on radar.