Inside the missile system that likely brought down MH17

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- While questions remain about who is responsible, we are learning more about how Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 was brought down.

For many, the Buk missile launcher was not a term we had heard of until Thursday, when Ukrainian officials pointed to it as the originator of the missile that took down the jumbo jet.

WUSA9 talked to one of the world's leading experts on missile technology to gain insight.

Many say the launcher used in Thursday's tragic takedown of a commercial jumbo jet was made in Russia, likely sold by a company named Almaz-Antey. Their slogan is "High technologies safeguarding peaceful skies."

Steve Zaloga of Fairfax-based Teal Group wrote the book on missiles, literally. The defense author and analyst showed WUSA9 sales brochures of the missiles the company uses at trade shows. He explains how its radar works, "They are not normally connected to things like air traffic control radar that monitor national airspace. When they look, they simply see an object. They see an aircraft flying at 33,000 feet, it's not identified as military, it' not identified as civilian, it's simply identified as a radar target."

Zaloga says the launcher doesn't act alone; it works in conjunction with a radar vehicle and a command post. He says the radar likely doesn't discern between military targets and a commercial airplane.

Aki Peritz is a terrorism analyst and sheds light on the knowledge needed to use a Buk missile system. "You need a person that's been trained, who has some sort of sophisticated understanding of weaponry and targeting to really do this. So this was not an accident in the sense that they weren't aiming for this plane.


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