IRAN BARES REASON FOR DOWNING UKRAINIAN PLANE
A misaligned missile battery, miscommunication between troops and their commanders, and a decision to fire without authorization all led to Iran's Revolutionary Guard shooting down a Ukrainian passenger jet, killing all 176 people on board, a new report says.
The report released late on Saturday, according to Euronews, wad made courtesy of Iran's Civil Aviation Organisation which comes months after the January 8 crash near the Iranian capital, Tehran.
Authorities had initially denied responsibility, only changing course days later after Western nations presented extensive evidence that Iran had shot down the plane.
The report may signal a new phase in the investigation into the crash, as the aircraft's black box flight recorder is due to be sent to Paris, where international investigators will finally be able to examine it. It also comes as public opinion remains low in regard to Iran's government as it faces both crushing US sanctions and vast domestic economic problems.
The shootdown happened the same night Iran launched a ballistic missile attack targeting US soldiers in Iraq, its response to the American drone strike that killed Guard General Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on January 3.
At the time, Iranian troops were bracing for a US counterstrike and appear to have mistaken the plane for a missile. The civil aviation report does not acknowledge that, only saying a change in the “alertness level of Iran’s air defense” allowed previously scheduled air traffic to resume.
The report detailed a series of moments where the shootdown of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 could have been avoided.
The report said the surface-to-air missile battery that targeted the Boeing 737-800 had been relocated and was not properly reoriented.
Those manning the missile battery could not communicate with their command center, misidentified the civilian flight as a threat and opened fire twice without approval from ranking officials, the report said.
“If each had not arisen, the aircraft would not have been targeted,” the report said.
Western intelligence officials and analysts believe Iran shot down the aircraft with a Russian-made Tor system, known to NATO as the SA-15. In 2007, Iran took the delivery of 29 Tor M1 units from Russia under a contract worth an estimated $700 million (€620 million). The system is mounted on a tracked vehicle and carries radar and a pack of eight missiles.