KUALA LUMPUR, July 25 — Shrapnel-like holes resembling machine-gun shots have been detected on the wrecked fuselage of the Malaysia Airlines plane recovered from its Ukraine crash site, which official investigators say strongly point to the use of a missile to bring down Flight MH17.
However, the team of international investigators with the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) are uncertain if the missile used was fired from the ground as US military experts have previously suggested, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported.
In its report, the New York-based daily observed that “some air-to-air missiles also are designed to destroy an aircraft with a shrapnel-producing warhead”.
The MH17 crash investigators would have a higher chance of identifying the missile model and type used if they find and chemically analyse the actual shrapnel pieces, WSJ suggested.
Earlier this week, defence analyst Reed Foster told the New York Times (NYT) that the MH17 plane was likely torn apart by shrapnel from a missile that exploded near it rather in directly hitting it.
The assessment was based on photographs taken by NYT photographers, of the holes on the pieces of wreckage at the crash site.
Foster, who is attached to defence consultancy IHS Jane’s, was cited saying the shrapnel marks were consistent with a hit from a fragmenting warhead, such as that of a surface-to-air missile.
The NYT report also noted that it was impossible to identify the exact missile model based on the photographs.
American officials believe the missile belonged to the SA-11 class of weapon, an old but powerful anti-aircraft system also known as Buk in Russian that was widely used in the 1970s Soviet era that could go up to 25,000 metres, far surpassing the 10,000-metre altitude at which Flight MH17 was flying when it was downed on July 17.
Ukraine has claimed that pro-Russia separatists had downed the plane using the Buk missile, but the Ukraine rebels denied owning such equipment.
Russia has also pointed the fingers at Ukraine.
The Boeing plane carrying 298 people on board was terminated in mid-air over conflict-ridden Ukraine, en route from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur on July 17.
There were no survivors on the Flight MH17.