Strakonice, Prague - The Malaysia Airlines jet shot down over eastern Ukraine last week was most likely hit by a Russian-made Buk land-to-air missile. These missiles are visible on radar, so the information about the incident is readily available not only to Russia and Ukraine, but also to the USA and other NATO members, said Czech air defense missile brigade commander Petr Prskavec in an interview with Aktualne.cz. “The question is how will they use the information. And if the investigators will be allowed to access it.”
Prskavec, whose unit is based in the southern Czech town of Strakonice, also said that the jet may have been hit by an older version of the Buk system, called Kub. These missiles are available to the militaries of both Ukraine and Russia. “So the pro-Russian separatists could have obtained them. In terms of effectiveness and precision, there is not a big difference between these missile systems.”
He also said that there is no way an untrained person can launch these missiles. “These missiles can be operated only by well-instructed and trained experts. It is a very complicated device... But the experts may have joined the separatists. Or they may have been forced at gunpoint to launch the missile and aim it at the civilian airliner. But this is just my speculation,” said Prskavec.
“Spy agencies should share info with airlines”
Aktualne.cz also spoke to Civil Aviation Authority deputy director Petr Navratil, who strongly complained about the fact that intelligence agencies do not share information about threats to civilian aviation with airline companies. “They know who owns which weapons and where and if there is a threat of them being used against civilian airplanes. These agencies can identify such risks and evaluate the threats. The problem is that the cooperation between these organizations and airline companies does not work. This is not the first time I am getting angry over this,” Navratil said, adding that airlines have to rely on CNN to plan flight routes and evaluate security threats.
“Something has to change in civilian aviation. It is about the quantity of information airline companies can work with... Hopefully, something will change in this respect after Thursday's tragedy: the legislative framework and the cooperation between military and civilian entities. All this should allow airline companies to get better information when planning their flight routes,” said Navratil.
Navratil also says he believes that intelligence agencies “know everything” about the MH-17 incident. “Let me just remind you that airspace over eastern Ukraine is today probably the most monitored airspace in the world. And not only by Russia and Ukraine, but also for example by NATO. There is evidence, the question is to access it.”
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