Classified by NATO as SA-11 GADFLY, Buk missile
systems are advanced, radar-guided surface-to-air missile systems, or SAM in
military lingo. Four Russian SAM systems could knock down a passenger jet
flying at 33,000 feet, according
to Defense Tech, the same altitude at which the Malaysian airliner was
flying when it was hit.
In the intercepted conversations, the Russian
officers and Kremlin-backed militants express relief in finally getting their
hands on a Buk-M system, one of four modified versions of the Russian SAM. Kyiv
believes the Russians in Donetsk Oblast used the Buk-M2 because Ukraine’s
military doesn’t have them in its arsenal.
Until recently, Ukraine had enjoyed relative air
superiority over the Kremlin-backed militants.