US officials reportedly believe that Malaysia Airlines MH17 was shot down by a surface-to-air missile.
The unsourced reports suggest, however, that they are unclear about who launched the attack. The Eastern Ukraine has been the site of a low level military conflict in recent months between the Ukrainian military and pro-Russian guerrilla forces.
The Ukraine, for its part, has been quick to finger separatists for the incident.
Social media speculation points to the SA-11/SA-17 missile as the possible weapon used – if, indeed, it is formally confirmed that the aircraft was downed by a missile.
According to published reports, this system involves two to three vehicles. One vehicle carries the weapons, while the other carries the radar system to identify, track, and guide the weapon to the target. A third vehicle can carry spare rounds.
The ill-fated Boeing 777-200ER aircraft would have been well within the envelope of this system, which can reportedly engage small and large targets from 100 feet to over 70,000 feet. A total of 298 lives were lost in the crash.
If a missile downed the aircraft, it would not be without precedent.
Five years later, on