McClatchy quotes Brent Scowcroft Center Nonresident Senior Fellow Patrick O’Reilly on the shooting down of a Malaysia Airlines plane near Ukraine’s eastern border with Russia:
But proving it was an SA-11 might be difficult, said retired Army Lt. Gen. Patrick O’Reilly, who served as the head of the U.S. Missile Defense Agency from 2008 until 2013. Very little of an SA-11 missile would have survived the explosion and the high-speed descent from 33,000 feet, the plane’s cruising altitude, he said.
Moreover, he said, the SA-11 uses a proximity fuse that triggers the warhead when it senses that the target is close.
“The missile almost self-destructs,” said O’Reilly, who is now a non-resident fellow with the Atlantic Council, a foreign policy institute.
“From a point of view of detecting what happened from the point of how the intercept occurred, it may be momentarily the last second or so of indicating what systems failed or how, and that’s about it,” O’Reilly said.