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Sophisticated Surface-to-Air System Needed to Shoot Down High-Flying Jets - WSJ


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Typical cruising altitude would be well beyond the reach of the shoulder-fired types that have so often been used in the Ukrainian war.

Still, the Ukrainian government says Russia has been funneling increasingly sophisticated weapons to rebels to buttress their crumbling defenses in the east, where they have lately been on the defensive.

Spokesmen for rebels have said they are getting the arms—including tanks and armored personnel carriers—from Ukrainian government stockpiles.

On June 29, rebel forces said they overran a Ukrainian military base and acquired a truck-mounted surface-to-air missile system, the Buk-M2, with a range capable of shooting down a commercial jet at cruising altitude.

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"If it was a Buk, that is a quite sophisticated system that would require some kind of knowledge about how it works," said Douglas Barrie, senior fellow for military aerospace at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London. "This is not the kind of system you can just pick up and use."

The Buk was developed in the Soviet Union and entered service in the late 1970s. Even early model Buk missiles can strike targets at an altitude of more than 40,000 feet with the missile flying three times the speed of sound, according to data from the Federation of American Scientists. Each missile has a 121-pound warhead.

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