This article first appeared at Fort Russ News

11 January update: The Iranian military has released a statement (English version) claiming responsibility, but point 3 is patent BS:

“3- Under such sensitive and critical circumstances, the Ukrainian airline’s Flight PS752 took off from Imam Khomeini Airport, and when turning around, it approached a sensitive military site of the IRGC, taking the shape and altitude of a hostile target. In such conditions, due to human error and in an unintentional move, the airplane was hit [by the Air Defence], which caused the martyrdom of a number of our compatriots and the deaths of several foreign nationals”

That’s just not a tenable position unless the SAM operators (crew, not one individual, the launch officer should have not only input from the screen operator, but should oversee the radar tracking, looking at all indicators himself) PANICKED and launched on what could only morph into the “shape and altitude of a hostile target” in the radar crew’s fantasy. This aspect of the explanation  does not convince, it ignores too many indicators this was a civilian flight. Is taking responsibility for the shootdown the least damaging (to the Iran security establishment’s domestic reputation) means of laying the issue to rest? Iran’s explanation leaves some loose threads hanging, not least an Iranian shootdown would have been reported immediately via chain of command to leadership; which should bring the initial denials under close scrutiny. In such any case, rather there should have been a non-committal ‘let’s see what the investigation determines.’

My thanks to Russell Bentley, for the timely heads up in the comments at Fort Russ.


manpad - 1

So, the  Canadians (Justin Trudeau, a midget political caricature in the shadow of his father) have ‘intelligence’ showing Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 had been ‘inadvertently’ shot down by the Iranians. Meanwhile the New York Times has come into possession of a video, they had time to have professionally analyzed, showing UIA 752 had been struck by missile. Newsweek reports Ukrainian intelligence has identified fragments of a Tor M1 surface to air missile circulating on social media, ostensibly found in a Tehran suburb. The Tor M1 is a Russian built short range surface to air missile Iran possesses and plainly expected to be on high alert (launch ready) at the time of UIA 752’s departure from Tehran, due to Iran’s strike on the USA bases in Iraq.

So far, so frog, all is consistent with a ‘fog of war’ scenario where the Iranian forces had brought down the civilian jet. But wait a minute.

The first red flag is how quickly all of this was put together for Western media. It was simply too fast.

The second red flag is the video itself. Why, would anyone be recording an empty night sky that does not show flight 752 (at a distance, invisible in the dark) except they would be expecting to see something, and wellah, a missile appears to come from the left of the otherwise empty sky and boom! .. lights up the night sky with a strike on the (otherwise invisible) civilian liner. That kind of stinks, particularly since the otherwise pointless (clearly a psychic compelled someone to film an empty night sky) video immediately ends up in the hands of Western media.

Third, unlike the Ukrainians, the Iranian military is not populated with demoralized, undisciplined drunks who shoot down civilian liners with SAM systems (such as the face-saving device offered to the Western states by Russia, for Ukraine actually having shot down MH 17 with a combat jet.) The Iranians are a highly professional, motivated, well trained caliber of military with a high state of self discipline.

The thoroughly modern Tor M1 system would, via IFF (Identification, Friend or foe), the civilian jet’s transponder, speed, trajectory and flight path, clearly identify Flight 752 as a civilian flight departing Tehran. What’s more is, any radar tracking an actual hostile target would have seen its approach originating from outside a circumference surrounding Tehran. By the time the civilian plane had been turning, its’ point of origin should have already been established within this circumference, i.e. the international airport.

The odd fact as yet unexplained; why UIA 752’s departure time coincided with Iran’s missile launch on the American bases? A priority given to the passengers getting out of Iran with the possibility of escalating tit for tat exchange? And why, other than flight crew, why were there practically no Ukrainians on UIA 752 to Kiev? That seems out of ordinary as well. Was this somehow promoted as an evacuation flight?

Throw into the mix of this the several experts indicating Iran had signaled to the USA the time and targets of the Iranian missiles launch on the American bases in Iraq, to minimalize escalation, and you have all of the necessary elements for a Western intelligence cell in Iran to prepare for recording itself bringing down the Ukrainian flight with a manpad (shoulder launched surface to air missile.) Insofar as producing Tor M1 fragments, this system is widespread across the geopolitical spectrum, even NATO  states possess this system, example given is Greece. Planting these pieces (whether in a Tehran suburb or elsewhere mimicking a Tehran location) to be promptly spread on social media (where military and intelligence agencies maintain thousands of fake profiles), you can pin the fault on the Iranians. This sends a message ‘we can strike inside Iran’ and, as well, causes Iran civil aviation problems on the world stage.

Is this what actually happened? It would explain the Iranians immediate denials, as simple as their launch systems people would probably (and likely truthfully) report no Tor M1 had been fired.

War crimes are nothing new in regards to the West directed at Iran, after all, the cynical inside joke at Department of State over the 2003 rationale for invading Iraq was, ‘yeah, we know they have chemical weapons, we gave them to Saddam to use on Iran.’

Of course this is entirely speculation, the case could go either way and we shall see what happens with the already argued over investigative efforts… but in my opinion the Western media presentation smells bad, the picture emerged too quickly, too conveniently.

11 January (2nd update) in the comments at Ft Russ, Russell Bentley has this to say:

“You know, something still smells fishy about this. In my research yesterday, I discovered the SA-15 actually has two targeting systems – Radar and TV. The TV is a visual system, all weather, day/night, NV/IR, with first class optics and a 20 Km range. The radar has a 25 Km range, but the missiles have a 15 Km range, max. So if they could hit it, they HAD to be able to see it. And as you said, the SA-15’s were part of an integrated system, and would have known that a sudden appearance of a blip on the screen without prior warning from longer range systems located closer to the border would have required double checking. And your point about turning – as I understand, it did not turn until after it was hit by the first missile. (And BTW, it appears to have been hit by TWO missiles, while it was going 316 MPH at an altitude of less than 8,000 feet, well within range of Strela, Igla, Stinger, Polish Grom and British Starstreak MANPADS.) It’s original flight path, towards Parand, is 180 degrees away from the Aria military airfield, and 90 degrees away from Tehran. In fact, the flight path would have been very similar to what Iranian AF jets would have taken if they were going to intercept incoming enemy aircraft from Iraq, so it is really hardly believable that an outgoing 737 could be mistaken for an incoming “bogey”. Particularly when you consider the IRGCAF’s (utterly non-existent) reputation for “panic and incompetence””

My Reply:

“It is entirely feasible the Iranians decided to falsely swallow responsibility as the easiest means of deflecting the several possibilities for complications, both external & internal. As a matter of fact, I actually think that’s what Saudi Arabia ultimately decided to do in the case of Jamal Khashoggi. S**t is flung in deeply devious ways in geopolitics, it comes with the territory (in a severely messed up world.)”