Zee Media Bureau
Kiev/New Delhi: The shocking missile attack on Malaysia Airlines MH17 has brought to focus the lethal capabilities of Russian made Buk missile system.
First developed during the Cold War era, Buk missile system is a very sophisticated radar guided surface-to-air missiles (SAM) that, depending on the version, can intercept targets as high as 72,000 feet within a range extending upto 22 miles. They have been designed to engage fixed and rotary winged aircraft, cruise missiles and drones.
The ill-fated passenger jet was cruising at about 33,000 feet at about 500 miles per hour when it was locked in by the missile system and brought down over Ukraine.
The Buk is a mobile missile system that operates as a battalion comprising of many vehicles including the one mounted with the target acquisition radar (TAR).
The guided 16 metre long missile with a gross weight of around 1500 pounds generally carries over 150 pounds of explosives. And with a speed of over 2.6 Mach, it would have taken less than a minute for the SAM to hit the target.
Dsigned to detonate within 20 metres of its target, the Buk missile would have led to disintegration of the aircraft mid air. MH17 had 298 passengers and crew on board.
The Buk missiles have remained widely in use in Russia and other former Soviet states, including Ukraine.