On October 7, 2015, VKO Almaz-Antey, JSC staged a unique natural experiment shedding light on the circumstances surrounding the crash of the Boeing-777 (flight МН17) that was blown out of the sky in July 2014 in the area of military hostilities over the Donetsk region.
For simulation purposes, a written-down Ilyushin IL-86 was acquired that is similar in design and main airframe parameters to those of the Boeing-777. In addition, a 9M38M1 missile was procured from the Russian Defense Ministry's stocks. The missile was fired at the aircraft's fuselage in the stationary position at the test site of the Bakhirev State Scientific Research Institute of Mechanical Engineering based in the Nizhny Novgorod region.
The objective of the experiments was to put to test the version voiced in the preliminary report of the International Commission of Inquiry into the plane crash to the effect that the shot at the aircraft was made from the area around the village of Snezhnoe by a 9M38M1 missile. A supercomputer had processed over 14 million potential options to define the parameters of offsetting the dynamic and static positions of the objects — the missile and the aircraft.
In the full-scale reconstruction experiment the approaching angles matched the scenario as if the rocket had been launched at the target from the area of Snezhnoe. In the end, the nature of the damage sustained by the aircraft under this scenario turned out to be completely different than what was actually recorded for the Boeing 777. It should be borne in mind that the port side of the Malaysian aircraft — the cockpit, the left wing, the left engine and the left part of the tail — the brunt of the impact from fragmentations. The left engine of the IL-86 jet had gone through VKO Almaz-Antey's experiment completely unscathed. The bulk of bomblets — the “scalpel” — sliced through the cabin, which rules out any possibility that its right half might have remained intact.
The reason for choosing the 9M38M1 missile for the experiment was dictated by the International Commission's insistence that the Malaysian Boeing-777 was shot down exactly by the weapon of exactly that modification. The missile is armed with heavy destruction elements — I-beam shaped fragments. The IL-86 predominately displayed damages that had butter-fly shapes normally left by 9М38М1 missiles armed carrying I-beam shaped fragments. However, it is known that the Malaysian jet was peppered with diamond rather than butterfly shaped holes. Such damages are traceable to the missile of the older modifications that is the 9M38 unarmed with I-beam fragments. Such missiles have long since been out of service in Russia as the useful life of the last one of them expired in 2011. However they have remained in service with the Armed Forces of Ukraine since the Soviet times.
“The experiment's results have completely refuted the findings of the Dutch Commission on the type of missile and the location of launch. Today we can clearly say that if the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 was shot down by the BUK system, it was hit by the 9M38 missile coming from around the village of Zaroshchenskoe”, said Chief Executive Officer of VKO Almaz-Antey, JSC Jan Novikov.
The first stage of real-life tests took place on July 31. The mock-up of the Boeing-777's fore part made of metal panels was selected as the target. The target was detonated using the 9N314M warhead placed in the second stage of the 9M38M1 missile's body. The shot was made in the manner reproducing the missile flight path from the area of Zaroshchenskoe. The pattern of fragments obtained in the course of the experiment was simulated into the computational model of the Boeing-777 allowing to the experts to record the damages identical to those actually found on the Malaysian aircraft, thus validating t the calculations of Almaz-Antey's experts that were presented at the 2 June press conference: the MH-17 flight was downed in the area to the south of the village of Zaroshchenskoe.