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The Military The Media Politics

Alleged Satellite Photo Says Ukraine Shootdown of MH17 340

theshowmecanuck (703852) writes A group calling itself the Russian Union of Engineers has published a photograph, picked up by many news organizations (just picked one, Google it yourself to find more), claiming to show that MH17 was shot down by a Ukrainian fighter plane. The interesting thing is the very quick ad hoc crowd sourced debunking of the photograph using tools from Google maps, online photos/data, to their own domain knowledge backed up with the previous information. It would be interesting to understand who the "Russian Union of Engineers" are and why they in particular were chosen to release this information.
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Alleged Satellite Photo Says Ukraine Shootdown of MH17

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  • uh, no? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by X0563511 ( 793323 ) on Saturday November 15, 2014 @04:43PM (#48393833) Homepage Journal

    If this is real, that has got to be the worst pilot I've ever seen.

    You don't fire at such a square angle. You want to be behind or in front. You also don't fire missiles when you're so damn close.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by dunkelfalke ( 91624 )

      It is probably a fake, but Ukrainian pilots are indeed crappy. They lack training and flight hours. Here [youtube.com] is an example of how they fly

      • Re:uh, no? (Score:5, Interesting)

        by Luckyo ( 1726890 ) on Saturday November 15, 2014 @05:10PM (#48393959)

        I've watched the Russian original, and it's very weird. Their claim is that pilot first strafed the cockpit with guns which resulted in cockpit detaching from the aircraft, which they claim Dutch investigators have confirmed. The goal was apparently to silence the crew and prevent calls for help. Then the aircraft fired a heat seeker into the engines causing aircraft to spin out of control and crash.

        Their other point on the other hand sounded much more reasonable. They note that BUK missile makes a very brightly visible plume and persistent smoke trail as it goes through its trajectory, and there were apparently no confirmed instances of footage of this in relation to the plane. Considering just how obviously exceptional it would look in the sky and how many photos there are of pretty much anything weird happening in the warring region, it does sound odd that no one got any footage of the missile. It should be visible for tens of kilometers in all directions.

        Overall, the case is getting stranger with every relevation.

        • Re:uh, no? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by X0563511 ( 793323 ) on Saturday November 15, 2014 @05:12PM (#48393973) Homepage Journal

          Why would they bother with the missile if they had disabled the flight deck?

          • Re:uh, no? (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Savage-Rabbit ( 308260 ) on Sunday November 16, 2014 @03:44AM (#48395807)

            I've watched the Russian original, and it's very weird. Their claim is that pilot first strafed the cockpit with guns which resulted in cockpit detaching from the aircraft, which they claim Dutch investigators have confirmed. The goal was apparently to silence the crew and prevent calls for help. Then the aircraft fired a heat seeker into the engines causing aircraft to spin out of control and crash.

            Their other point on the other hand sounded much more reasonable. They note that BUK missile makes a very brightly visible plume and persistent smoke trail as it goes through its trajectory, and there were apparently no confirmed instances of footage of this in relation to the plane. Considering just how obviously exceptional it would look in the sky and how many photos there are of pretty much anything weird happening in the warring region, it does sound odd that no one got any footage of the missile. It should be visible for tens of kilometers in all directions.

            Overall, the case is getting stranger with every revelation.

            Why would they bother with the missile if they had disabled the flight deck?

            Because this is is an really strange story that does not make sense on any level. I would have expected better fiction, even from a conspiracy theorist. The fighter in that picture looks like a MiG-29 or a Su-27 to me. The UkAF has both of these fighters and they can fire BVR missiles. BVR missiles are big fat 3.5-4 meter long monsters with a massive range and a large warhead intented for air to air use for anything up to bomber and large transport sized aircraft. The main BVR missile variants used by the RuAF and the UkAF are the R-27 (Nato code: AA-10) and the newer R-77 (Nato code: AA-12). The range of the AA-10 and AA-12 BVR missiles is something like 80-110 kilometers. I'm not sure if the Ukrainians have any AA-12s but they definitely have the older AA-10 whose seekers they have extensively upgraded to the point where they are still able to sell the AA-10 abroad for use on modernized MiG-29s and SU-27/30s with other air forces. So why the hell would a Ukrainian air force fighter have had to shut up the crew of MH17 with gunfire before downing the airliner with a WVR missile (presumably an AA-11, 7kg fragmenting warhead) when they could have picked MH17 off with a more powerful AA-10 radar guided missile (which has a 39 kg fragmenting warhead) that more closely mimics a BUK? I'm pretty sure that even if a UkAF fighter had fired a BVR missile from a 60 degree cone behind MH17 to make sure the crew did not see it coming (a more realistic scenario), they could still have fired it from about 25 km away and that missile would have come like a bat out of hell for the crew of MH17. They wouldn't have known what hit them, i.e. no need for gunfire and with a 39 kg warhead... you can imagine the rest.

        • The other reasonable point was that the airplane was hit by a continuous rod warhead which is more typical for air to air missiles. Buk missiles are usually HE-frag.

          • Re:uh, no? (Score:5, Informative)

            by Maury Markowitz ( 452832 ) on Saturday November 15, 2014 @07:17PM (#48394411) Homepage

            > that the airplane was hit by a continuous rod warhead

            It absolutely was not. The images of the fragments *clearly* show shrapnel, and there isn't any evidence of anything hitting the plane that's longer than maybe an inch.

            • > that the airplane was hit by a continuous rod warhead

              It absolutely was not. The images of the fragments *clearly* show shrapnel, and there isn't any evidence of anything hitting the plane that's longer than maybe an inch.

              And you are basing this on what? A few low resolution pictures in some news reports?

          • The continuous rod thing (in practice it is usually an unfolding circle) basically just slices things off. It doesn't create the many tiny holes.

        • Re:uh, no? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by citizenr ( 871508 ) on Saturday November 15, 2014 @07:29PM (#48394443) Homepage

          Their other point on the other hand sounded much more reasonable. They note that BUK missile makes a very brightly visible plume and persistent smoke trail as it goes through its trajectory, and there were apparently no confirmed instances of footage of this in relation to the plane. Considering just how obviously exceptional it would look in the sky and how many photos there are of pretty much anything weird happening in the warring region, it does sound odd that no one got any footage of the missile. It should be visible for tens of kilometers in all directions.

          Overall, the case is getting stranger with every relevation.

          Pro russian/rusian forces used BUKs to shot down three other Ukrainian planes days before the MH17, got any pictures from those? No? see, not so weird.

        • Re:uh, no? (Score:5, Insightful)

          by schnell ( 163007 ) <me.schnell@net> on Saturday November 15, 2014 @09:09PM (#48394843) Homepage

          Overall, the case is getting stranger with every relevation.

          No, no it is not. This is a pretty blatant forgery - for a step-by-step walkthrough of what's obviously faked about it (including screenshots of the months-old Google Maps images and others that were used) please visit here [bellingcat.com].

          Giving this any credence by saying the case "gets stranger" is like reading some 9/11 truther's article and saying that it makes the truth behind the attacks "more puzzling." It doesn't. It just shows that some people are either disconnected from the truth or (in this case) willing to actively fabricate things to obscure it.

        • by khallow ( 566160 )

          They note that BUK missile makes a very brightly visible plume and persistent smoke trail as it goes through its trajectory, and there were apparently no confirmed instances of footage of this in relation to the plane.

          And you believe them why?

          Considering just how obviously exceptional it would look in the sky and how many photos there are of pretty much anything weird happening in the warring region, it does sound odd that no one got any footage of the missile. It should be visible for tens of kilometers in all directions.

          Just like they got pictures of the plane before it crashed?

      • by Mashiki ( 184564 )

        Considering that many of the sat images come directly from google...in the year 2010, yeah they're fake.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Look, it's Russian propaganda. We know that it is fake, they know that we know that it is fake.
      That still doesn't prevent them from using it internally to motivate a military operation in Ukraine.
      The military operation will probably be over before people have stopped arguing about the photograph.

    • Re:uh, no? (Score:5, Informative)

      by pushing-robot ( 1037830 ) on Saturday November 15, 2014 @06:02PM (#48394165)

      It is a fake. A very bad, undeniable, fake.

      Say the satellite is orbiting at 200km. The planes are flying at 10km. (I'm being generous on both these figures.) The planes are only 5% closer to the satellite than the ground, so perspective would only make the aircraft look 5% larger (barely enough to notice) than they would on the ground.

      Now look at the satellite photo again. Compare the fighter to the roads and farm plots it's flying over, and compare the 777 to the terrain features and especially the airport (I think) on the left side of the photo.

      (If you're curious, the fighter in real life has a 15m wingspan, the Boeing a 60m wingspan.)

      • Re:uh, no? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Saturday November 15, 2014 @06:49PM (#48394341)
        Not to mention it's "attacking" from the wrong side since most of the projectile damage is on the port side of the plane, and missile smoke trails start BEHIND the firing aircraft not directly under the wing - especially if the aircraft is moving (and a MiG-29 would have to be moving at a fair clip to avoid stalling at 10km). The engine on the missile is what provides its increased speed over the aircraft they are launched from. So necessarily the engine has to run for a few fractions of a second (and produce smoke) before the missile can catch up to the aircraft it was released from (drag starts to slow it down immediately on release) and then overtake it and move forwards. So you'd expect a long trail from the missile behind the MiG. This missile is represented as already being several plane lengths in front of the MiG which necessitates that its engine has been running a while - certainly long enough for the MiG to have overtaken the original smoke column.
        • by r1348 ( 2567295 )

          That depends on how persistent the missle's smoke trail is.

        • by bytesex ( 112972 )

          Never mind that the fighter is at such a distance to the airplane, that it would crash into it in 2 - 3 seconds.

      • Most imaging sats operate at 500km and up.
      • Re: uh, no? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Dzimas ( 547818 ) on Saturday November 15, 2014 @08:22PM (#48394667)

        It doesn't matter that it's obviously fake. These images were all over Russian media to cause a flurry of indignant response in favor of the Russian military and political position. Tomorrow's papers and newscasts won't bother to dissect the glaring errors -- all that matters is that millions of people saw "proof" that it was the evil Ukrainians all along. Sadly, many will believe the smear campaign.

        After all, 10 or 20 million people honestly believe that your president was actually born in Kenya, simply because someone made up a preposterous tale that they desperately wanted to believe.

        • In the short term in Russia proper that's true.

          But everyone else knows this is more then a bit fishy. In fact it's ridiculous BS.

          And in the long-term it's really, really hard to duck responsibility on something like this for an extended period of time. We blew that Iranian airliner up, gave the dude who did it a medal, but within a decade we had to take responsibility and pay substantial damages. Libya was able to duck responsibility for quite a bit longer after the Lockerbie bombing, but even Gadaffi had t

      • Re:uh, no? (Score:5, Funny)

        by viperidaenz ( 2515578 ) on Saturday November 15, 2014 @09:26PM (#48394893)

        How do you know the Ukrainians don't have fighter jets the size of a farm?

      • You mean setting aside the astonishing coincidence of a satellite taking a snap of an otherwise entirely innocuous airliner passing along relatively undisputed land at *just* a quarter-second after the Ukrainian jet fired a missile at said airliner?

        Even if it WAS a Ukrainian jet (and not a terrible photoshop) one would have to suspect a Russian planted flight officer, just based on that timing alone.

        Dear Mr Putin: http://www.mydamnchannel.com/y... [mydamnchannel.com]

    • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) *
      It's not real, for so many reasons.
    • probably drunk on russian vodka!
    • by Cyberax ( 705495 )
      You actually do. Missiles have more than enough intelligence and thrust to correctly position themselves, because they simply have to. In a real combat situation getting a clear tail shot is highly improbable event. Also, contrary to the popular opinion, missiles do not actually "chase" the target - they try to "cut" its course.
  • by photonic ( 584757 ) on Saturday November 15, 2014 @05:05PM (#48393935)
    For a decent debunking go to the Bellingcat blog [bellingcat.com]. Also saw some graphic somewhere that clearly showed that the perspective was wrong by an order of magnitude, either the plane was 1 km wide or the satellie was orbiting at 20 km or so. This fake is so bad, that I think the only target audience is the Russian public, most of whom believe everything that Putin's propaganda machine feeds them. I have a Russian colleague, whom I normally regard reasonably high, that believes some really strange facts about this incident. She probably gets all her info from Russian websites.
    • I've seen the same kind of thing. I know a lady who's from Serbia. Very smart woman, and she's lived in the US for a couple decades, immigrated and become a citizen. However, when it comes to world news, she believes the Serbian media over all others. It's pretty bad too, it makes Fox News look credible (well almost) with the level of propaganda and shit. However, to her, that's the truth.

      It seems a somewhat common thing that whatever you start getting your news from first is what sticks with you as the "tr

      • As a counterpoint, my first news sources were local community newspapers and nationally syndicated TV news -- both of which I avoid like the plague now.

      • And all their paranormal / UFO reports right along side "real news" doesn't help much.
      • by sjwt ( 161428 )

        Well, when you leave the good old soviet union, and end up in a country that is war focused, leading attack after attack all around the world, in instances against legitimate elected governments and supplying training, equipment and funding to rebel fighters with doggy ethics at best..

        then your own country gets roasted for supporting rebels who opposed an illegal government overthrow...

        Well I would question everything that government had to say too.

    • by quenda ( 644621 ) on Saturday November 15, 2014 @07:35PM (#48394471)

      I think the only target audience is the Russian public, most of whom believe everything that Putin's propaganda machine feeds them.

      They don't even have to believe it. Disinformation works even it it only serves to create confusion and cast doubt on the facts.

      • They don't even need to be confused, or have doubt. They just need to know what the propaganda says, so they can parrot it and not have to move to Siberia.

  • So all this CSI stuff is real?

  • Admittedly it took a little, but I can understand how having to outdo the Ukrainian minister saying Russia is about to drop Da Bomb on them in pure bullshit propaganda takes a while.

    Quite frankly, news about that whole shit are simply not interesting any more. The average episode of CSI contains more realism than any of the news we get from that area.

  • ...the Soviet Union of Engineers?

  • Like those who eat up the partisan politics in the US, or those who refuse to accept evolution as established science, the pro-Putin apologists don't care to be told the evidence was fabricated. That's not going to change their belief that it is genuine. Nothing will shake their beliefs. If you could show them actual video footage of the shooting of the plane by the separatists, if you could bring forth the actual people who shot the plane down and secure their confession in person, the response would be

  • by Dunbal ( 464142 ) * on Saturday November 15, 2014 @06:53PM (#48394363)
    This obviously is not an attempt at Russian propaganda. Russia has already stated that they've spotted an Su-25 on the left side of the aircraft. While Ukraine does have a few working MiG-29's, why would Russia suddenly change the story from an Su-25 to a MiG-29? Ukraine, however, has always insisted that a Russian MiG shot down the aircraft, when they weren't insisting that Donbass rebels or Russians shot down the plane with a BUK. So someone is trying to make it look like Russia is releasing this garbage which looks prepared by some Ukrainian half-wit.
    • Re:False flag (Score:4, Informative)

      by bossk538 ( 1682744 ) on Saturday November 15, 2014 @07:08PM (#48394381)

      It's on Channel 1 http://www.1tv.ru/news/leontie... [1tv.ru]

      Can't get more mainstream Russian media than that, so it's the real deal, not some attempt to smear Russia with a bad photoshop job.

    • by schnell ( 163007 )

      So someone is trying to make it look like Russia is releasing this garbage which looks prepared by some Ukrainian half-wit.

      Umm... if Russian is not "releasing" this, why is Russian state television showing this and claiming it is real?

      DOES NOT COMPUTE... NOMAD ERROR? ERROR? ERROR? EXAMINE.

  • by ZipK ( 1051658 ) on Saturday November 15, 2014 @07:34PM (#48394463)
    What's truly alarming are the apparatchiks that were conveniently removed [wikipedia.org] from the image.
  • Implies that area (and possibly others) are under constant surveillance.

    I wonder how long until they can stream video from a satellite, store it, and go back later and watch the movements after a crime to see where and possibly who did it.
    If they can't already.

  • by smooth wombat ( 796938 ) on Saturday November 15, 2014 @10:14PM (#48395061) Journal

    If one is to believe the Russians (ha!) the picture shows a jet which is clearly not an Su-25 but rather a more modern Mig.

    First, look at the wings. An Su-25 has a very shallow swept wing design which is because it is for ground attack. You need wings which are stable at slow speeds.

    The jet in the forgery clearly has very sharp swept back wings consistent with all modern jet fighters.

    In addition, if you look closely at the picture the Russians provided, there are no pods on the wingtips of the jet shown. Now look at the Su-25. Pods on each wing tip.

    Also, the elevators (the small wings at the back of the jet) are too large in the picture provided. The Su-25 has much smaller, more narrow ones.

    Second, look at the nose of the jet in the forgery. Long and pointy. Now go look at a picture of an Su-25. Shorter and more stubby, similar to a Harrier.

    Finally, there is issue of ceiling. The Su-25 has a max ceiling of 23,000 feet. Most 777s fly from 35,000 to roughly 60,000. If the Su-25 was flying at roughly the same altitude as the jetliner, that means the pilot was flying higher than Mt. Everest without any oxygen because the Su-25 does not have a pressurized cabin.

    Granted, none of this will matter to the Russian people, but anyone who has two brain cells can clearly see this isn't even close to being an Su-25 as the Russians claim.

    • You don't even need to delve into details like that. Just consider the relative size of the objects in that picture - the planes, and the ground underneath them.

  • by seven of five ( 578993 ) on Sunday November 16, 2014 @12:40AM (#48395471)
    In the US, it was reported that pro-Russia rebels immediately surrounded the crash area and actively interfered with the debris [cnn.com] and prevented investigators from entering the scene. If that's true, that's says a lot about the guilty parties.
    • Here (Germany) it was reported that investigators couldn't visit the crash site for a long time because it was in a war zone.
      Due to the current armistice the investigators now continue to salvage the wreckage, with separatists apparently helping out [spiegel.de]

Long computations which yield zero are probably all for naught.

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