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WASHINGTON - As Russia and Ukraine trade blame over the apparent shooting down of an airliner, they appear to agree on one thing: the type of Soviet-era missile that brought it down. The SA-11 Buk missile is known as "Gadfly" in NATO. The Buk - which means "beech tree" in Russian - includes four missiles on a turntable mounted on a tracked vehicle. A separate tracked vehicle carries early warning and acquisition radars. The system's 19-foot, 110-pound missiles have a range of up to 18 miles.
Pro-Moscow rebels were believed to have used a similar system to shoot down a Ukrainian Antonov AN-26 aircraft on Monday. Whether the 1970s-era radar-guided missiles would have been supplied by Russia or captured from Ukrainian forces is uncertain. On June 29, Russian's ITAR-TASS wire service quoted separatists in Donetsk in eastern Ukraine, not far from where the plane went down, as saying they had seized control of a missile defense army unit equipped with the Buk system. Nick de Larrinaga, an analyst at IHS Jane's Defence, said a commercial aircraft would have been in range of surface-to-air missile systems such as the Buk or alternatively the Russian-made S-300, also called the "SA-10 Grumble."
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