By Wayne Dupree | January 9, 2020

I believed the Iranian military shot down the passenger plane carrying 176 people from the beginning.

Judging from the sheer size of debris field and witness accounts, the airliner came apart in the sky. This aircraft was designed to fly on one engine. The technical difficulty it experienced may have been caused by a trigger happy Iranian. It’s slightly suspicious that the Iranians will not let the qualified authorities near the black boxes.

Another thing to add, a fire onboard does not cause the plane to completely break up in the air and scatter parts-bodies over a 6-mile area; missiles do that.

American, Canadian, and British officials said Thursday that the cause of the jet’s crash was a missile fired from Iran in the hours after the country had launched other missiles at bases housing U.S. troops.

Video of the impact shows a plane gaining altitude and then suddenly exploding in a flash of light. The fiery wreckage of the fuselage can be seen coasting toward the ground before dimming.

The airplane is believed to have been shot down by two Russian-made SA-15 surface-to-air missiles. The United States saw Iranian radar lock on to the jet before it fell from the sky. The airliner, a Boeing 737-800, crashed shortly after it took off from Imam Khomeini International Airport. Officials in Iran immediately placed blame on a technical issue and disputed that it was shot down.

Two U.S. officials said the assessment at the Pentagon is that the missile strike was accidental, as Tehran’s anti-aircraft systems were on high alert after the missile strikes on two bases in Iraq. [Washington Examiner]

The Iranian responses are what makes this crash seem kind of strange. The fact that they immediately came out and said it was a mechanical issue itself is weird because it means there was no communication with the plane. They said the black boxes were damaged and will not be much help, and yet the Iranians still insist it was a mechanical problem. They then hinder international investigators from viewing the site. Very strange.

We’re still dealing with circumstantial evidence, and should expect the Iranians to scrub the physical evidence (there have been reports of fragmentation hole patterns on fuselage and wing debris, and that missile components were also found; I’m sure the Iranians learned from the Ukraine shoot-down, and will “lose” those pieces), but there’s a LOT of circumstantial evidence, including:

  1. The shootdown was only three hours after Iran’s missile barrage, and it was still nighttime so that Iran would have been worried about an American response.
  2. The Iranians were blaming engine failure almost immediately, well before they could have known there was such an issue. That smacks of a cover story.
  3. The Iranian story wouldn’t account for the visual evidence (there are two videos of the flaming plane falling, one all the way to impact with the ground). The 737 would have been able to continue flight with only one engine, it would not have gone down as quickly as the video shows, even if both engines failed, and an engine failure would not have caused the plane to break-up in flight. At the same time, the crash scene indicates in-flight break-up, and the video shows both flaming debris falling from the aircraft during descent and an explosion during descent but before impact with the ground.
  4. There’s little doubt that such an experienced crew would have issued a “pan pan” or “mayday” the second that they thought they were in trouble. Whatever happened had to be CATASTROPHIC. Note that when a Buk missile took down the Malaysia Airlines flight over Ukraine, the pilots were probably killed instantly, as evidenced by the shrapnel pattern on the left side of the flight deck and the amount of shrapnel found in their bodies.

On top of all that, consider logistics for a second. This flight was taking-off from Tehran and flying towards Ukraine. That means it was flying to the NW or NNW, which would have taken it towards the location where the missiles fired towards Iraq were launched from. If you’re an Iranian SAM operator, it looked like a cruise missile or aircraft suddenly appeared on their radar, out of nowhere, and was heading towards the area where Iran had fired ballistic missiles from only three hours earlier.

Mistakes happen. The Soviets did it (twice), Russian-backed separatists (or the Russians, themselves) did it, and even we did it once. If the Iranians DID do this, they need to suck it up, admit what happened, and determine compensation for the victims. I won’t hold my breath, but that would be refreshing.

This is a horrible tragedy, no matter the cause. If it was a mistaken shootdown, that makes it even worse, because it was entirely avoidable (side note: WTF were the pilots thinking, taking-off and flying in this area, when the missile attack was public knowledge?)

Let’s hope that, if Iran did shoot down this plane, maybe it can be part of the burden of shame, or whatever you want to call it, that gets Iran and the rest of us around a table to normalize relations. Enough is enough!

This piece originally appeared on and is used by permission.

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