News / Europe

Malaysian Jet Shootdown Joins Long List of Civilian-Military Air Disasters

  • The convoy of hearses with the remains of the victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17 drives past international flags as it leaves Eindhoven airport to a military base in Hilversum, July 23, 2014.
  • King Willem Alexander, Queen Maxima of the Netherlands, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte and officials look at the convoy of hearses with the remains of the victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17 as it leaves Eindhoven airport to a military base in Hilversum, J
  • Flowers and a teddy bear are placed in front of a plane prior a ceremony to mark the return of the first bodies of passengers and crew killed in the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, Eindhoven military air base, July 23, 2014.
  • Coffins of the victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17 downed over rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine are loaded into hearses during a national reception ceremony at Eindhoven Airport, Netherlands, July 23, 2014.
  • Honor guards take part in a ceremony for the victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17 before they are loaded on a transport plane heading to the Netherlands, at Kharkiv Airport, Ukraine, July 23, 2014.
  • Ukrainian honor guards lift up a coffin containing the body of a Malaysian Airlines plane passenger to load it on a Dutch cargo plane, in Kharkiv Airport, Ukraine, July 23, 2014.
  • Honor guards carry a coffin of one of the victims of Malaysia Airlines MH17 before loading it on a transport plane heading to the Netherlands, at Kharkiv Airport, July 23, 2014. 
  • Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak tables an emergency motion to condemn the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 in eastern Ukraine, at Parliament House in Kuala Lumpur, July 23, 2014. 
  • Dutch flags fly half-staff in honor of citizens who were among the victims of flight MH17, in Delft, Netherlands, July 23, 2014.
  • U.S. President Barack Obama signs the book of condolence for the Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17 disaster at the Embassy of the Netherlands, as Deputy Chief of Mission Peter Mollema watches, Washington, July 22, 2014.
Flight with MH17 Victims' Remains Leaves for Netherlands
VOA News

The unfolding story of the Malaysian passenger jet shot down last week by an anti-aircraft missile over Ukraine joins a substantial list of similar military-civilian air disasters that have killed hundreds of non-combatants through decades of aviation history.

In the early 1980s, the Soviet Union shot down a Korean Air Lines jet, killing 269 people aboard, when the aircraft strayed into its airspace and was thought to be an enemy intruder. A few years later, the U.S. warship Vincennes accidentally killed 290 people when it downed an Iranian passenger plane after mistaking it for a fighter jet.

Robert Latiff, a retired U.S. Air Force major general and expert on jet navigational systems, told VOA that "when you have civilian people operating in the vicinity of a combat zone, it's likely to happen."

Devastating 'negligence'

Ukrainian government intercepts of social media comments made by pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine shortly after the Malaysia Airlines jet was struck seem to suggest that the rebels thought they had fired the missile at one of Kyiv's military cargo planes and downed it. But the Malaysian passenger jet was hit, killing all 298 aboard.

Latiff, who now teaches at George Mason University outside Washington, said the inexperience of the insurgents in operating the missile battery was telling.

"What I think happened was that we had a group of people who had a very sophisticated weapon system, provided to them by whomever, who didn't really know how to use it properly and didn't take advantage of other information that might have been available to them," said Latiff.

He said that with proper training and operation of the anti-aircraft missiles, military personnel would be able to electronically determine the difference between a civilian aircraft flying above a war zone and an enemy plane.

"I think it was a matter of poor training, people who were itchy to be in combat ... and may in fact have thought it was a cargo plane. But they didn't check and they should have," he said.

He called the separatists' actions "negligent," not "purposeful."

Numerous mishaps

The mystery surrounding a 1980 missile attack on an Itavia Airlines jet remains unsolved to this day. That plane crashed into the Tyrhennian Sea off Italy, killing all 81 aboard, but who fired the missile is still being debated. In 1955, an El Al flight wandered into Bulgarian air space and was shot down by fighter jets, killing 58.

In 1973, Israeli warplanes shot down a Libyan Arab Airlines jet that flew over the Sinai Peninsula and failed to heed warning shots. All but five of the 113 people on board were killed.

And last week's military-civilian air disaster in Ukraine is not the first there. In 2001, the Ukrainian military acknowledged that it shot down a Russian passenger jet, killing 76, while it was conducting exercises by firing missiles at drones. One of them locked on the Russian airliner after it sped past the destroyed drone.

 

 

You May Like

Lion Cecil's Killing Sparks 'Canned Hunting' Debate in S. Africa

Conservationists believe incident, which triggered worldwide outrage, will reshape debate about practice in which hunters are allowed to target animals bred for hunting More

Taliban's New Leader Says Jihad Will Continue

Top US Afghan diplomat also meets with Pakistani, Afghan officials following news of Mullah Omar's death More

Environmentalists Issue Warning on Mekong Biodiversity

Scientists say decades of economic development, hydropower-dam construction, lax law enforcement and trafficking have taken their toll More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missionsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
July 30, 2015 8:59 PM
Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Astronauts Train Underwater for Deep Space Missions

Manned deep space missions are still a long way off, but space agencies are already testing procedures, equipment and human stamina for operations in extreme environment conditions. Small groups of astronauts take turns in spending days in an underwater lab, off Florida’s southern coast, simulating future missions to some remote world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Civil Rights Leaders Struggled to Achieve Voting Rights Act

Fifty years ago, lawmakers approved, and U.S. President Lyndon Johnson signed, the Voting Rights Act of 1965. The measure outlawed racial discrimination in voting, giving millions of blacks in many parts of the southern United States federal enforcement of the right to vote. Correspondent Chris Simkins introduces us to some civil rights leaders who were on the front lines in the struggle for voting rights.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.

VOA Blogs