Investigation of radar data

The investigation also addressed radar data. Radar images might give insight in the cause of the downing of MH17 and the weapon used. To understand this part of the investigation and exactly what information it yielded, it is important to understand what information radar actually records. An explanation of how primary and secondary radar works has been listed in various sources in the case file, including: the reports of two radar experts appointed by the examining magistrate (rechter-commissaris), the findings of the Dutch Police Aviation Service, the report and results of the Dutch Safety Board (OVV), and the presentations of the Russian arms manufacturer Almaz Antey. On the basis of that information an investigation of the radar data as provided by Ukraine, the Russian Federation and the Dutch Safety Board was carried out.  

This is a summary of the speaking notes of the prosecutor. The full presentation can be watched in the video.

MH17: Investigation on radar data

Investigation has been conducted on all known primary radar systems that could have detected MH17 around the time of the crash, being the primary radar data of Ukraine, the Russian Federation and NATO. From the received primary data - the Russian air traffic radar data of Ust-Donetsk provided the most information. This primary radar data does not contain a registration of detection of a missile or a fighter aircraft in the vicinity of MH17. 

According to the two appointed experts from the Dutch Ministry of Defence and EUROCONTROL, along with the Dutch Safety Board, there are various plausible explanations why there is no radar registration of a Buk missile on the primary radar system. The fact that no record was found does not mean, according to these experts, that there was no missile. Contrary to the opinion of the two appointed experts and the Dutch Safety Board -  Almaz Antey and the Russian Ministry of Defence claim that the absence of this detection is evidence of the absence of a Buk missile fired from the direction of Pervomaiskyi. 

According to the experts of the Dutch Ministry of Defence and EUROCONTROL, the Dutch Safety Board, the Russian Ministry of Defence and Almaz Antey - a military aircraft is far easier to detect than a Buk-missile. All experts agree that such detection was absent on the radar. And according to all sources, the absence of Russian radar data recording a military aircraft proofs that there was no military aircraft in the vicinity of MH17 at the time of the downing.  

After years of requests, the Russian Federation finally provided primary radar data. Assessment of these data in July 2014 and September 2016 by the Russian authorities offered contradictory results. Data of a second radar system in Buturinskaya, which - according to the Russian July 2014 assessment - recorded MH17 shortly before it was downed, have not been provided. In February 2020 the Russian authorities informed us that these data were not retained. We do not think further investigation could offer any new radar data or additional opinions on the existing data. 

On basis of these findings, we conclude that the investigation of radar data is complete. Not only was investigation carried out into available radar data, but also on the reasons why other data could not be provided. The investigation into Ukrainian civil and military radar data has produced limited results. The reasons for which certain Ukrainian data could not be provided were the subject of extensive and in-depth investigations.