BY ALEX DAVIES
American officials believe the missile that destroyed Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was fired by pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine, using a Russian-made system designed for bringing down fighter jets. That brings up the question: How easy is it to bring down a passenger jet with a weapon that’s meant to used by trained soldiers?
Turns out, it’s pretty easy. As in, take a three-day course and go for it easy.
The weapon in question is the SA-11, a radar-guided surface to air missile (SAM) system. It’s been around since the Soviets deployed the first-generation model in 1979. The mobile system (it sits on a tank chassis) is made to serve near the front lines to protect ground forces from air attacks. Operated by a crew of four and designed to attack fighter jets, it can fire multiple missiles simultaneously. It fires high explosive proximity fuse warheads, which home in on their targets and detonate just before reaching them, to maximize damage. Targets 20 miles away and over 70,000 feet in the air are fair game. It’s a “big, heavy vehicle that has big missiles,” says Randal Cordes, a military intelligence analyst who has worked at the CIA and Pentagon. “To use an SA-11 against an airliner, it’s brutal overkill.”
The training required to properly operate the system can take weeks or months, which may explain why the Malaysia plane was destroyed in the first place. The problem with the SA-11 is that it’s difficult to properly identify and track targets, but easy to fire missiles. “The skill comes in knowing what you want to shoot at,” says Cordes. That’s because the SA-11’s radar system shows the same “blip” for all different targets. The operator sees an aircraft’s altitude, air speed, and vector, but not it’s size or type, says Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Airliners broadcast a four-digit transponder known as an IFF code that identifies them as civilian aircraft, and the SA-11 system is capable of picking up that information. But the training that goes into properly identifying aircraft takes months, especially since the window for acquiring and firing on targets is just a few minutes.
“You can’t take a crew, stick ‘em inside the cabin, and say here’s the on switch, and here’s the button you hit,” and expect them to operate it properly, says Wesley Paul, a former intelligence research analyst for the Air Force.
“Ready” and “aim” are difficult. “Fire” is easy.
But say someone dropped off the SA-11 and did all the basic work of getting it up and running, another complicated task. And say you decided on a target that popped up on your radar, whether or not you knew what it was. In that case, destruction comes easy. It would take three to four days at most to teach someone to use the system well enough to shoot down a 777, Cordesman says. That’s partly because passenger planes fly at steady speeds and altitudes, and have no defense systems. They cruise higher than fighter jets do, at heights where they’re more easily picked up by radar.
“Once the radar picks up a target, it is a matter of telling the system that it should engage the target and issuing a fire command,” says Paul Huter, an aerospace engineer at Lockheed Martin. That involves following a checklist and selecting the target, either by clicking on a screen or pushing a button (or clicking with a mouse on a screen, depending on the system model). Training would consist of running through that procedure in various conditions, and would be so straightforward, Huter says, that “it is certainly possible for someone with no training to read through the checklist and successfully engage a target.”
Cordesman compared it to firing a gun: “Pulling the trigger is easy. Judgment is hard.” And once the missile’s been fired, there’s no way to divert it, he says. “You press the damn button and it’s gone.”
Jason Derulo checked into Rehab this weekend — the legendary Las Vegas pool party at the Hard Rock — where the singer had to follow a 12-step program of his own:
Step 1 — Admit you are powerless over ass.
Step 2 — Embrace and enjoy.
Steps 3 through 12 — repeat Step 2.
Get jazzy on that.
Remember when in 10 Things I Hate About You, Larisa Oleynik sees her sister’s black underwear and tells Joseph Gordon-Levitt it means she wants to have sex someday, or is sexually active? Because that’s the only reason someone would have black underwear. Underwear meansthings!
So ladies and gents, when you take off a girl’s pants, know that the underwear she’s wearing indicates what she thought this night would lead to, and what kind of girl she really is.
A nice, lacy thong
Girl knew she was getting laid. She pretty much thought you were a sure thing. She probably shaved her legs too. Whatever your plan was for the evening, she knew it was gonna end in sex. But she still wants to impress you.
She’s trying to look like she just wears this kind of underwear all the time, and if you say, “But my girlfriend does just always wear lacy thongs,” you are wrong. She just hasn’t opened herself up to you completely yet. The lacy thong means she still wants you to have some mystery, to think of her as a sexy ethereal being. Enjoy it while it lasts. (And for god’s sake, compliment them! She’s wearing them for you!)
She’s a cool, chill girl. She probably wants to hang out, smoke weed, and watch a “Batman” movie. If your girl’s wearing boy shorts it means she’s still trying to look cute for you but she’s not into all that frilly mess. She probably doesn’t wear much make up and she probably won last year’s March Madness bracket while telling you and your friends to “suck it.”
She likes your friends. She likes low-key nights. She likes beer. She wears what she finds comfortable and she doesn’t like stress or drama. Keep this girl.
Underwear with words on the butt
Questionable. Her taste has to be somewhat not that great if she thinks splashing, “Up All Night!” across her butthole is attractive or funny. It’s not funny. It’s weird to think of someone reading your butt. Why is that a thing?
This is probably the same girl who carries around a tiny dog and always gets the pink version of every new electronic. That girl can be fun and great, but beware someone selfish and high maintenance. I mean, you’re just trying to make sex enjoyable for you both and now she wants you to read her ass? Too much work.
I know what you’re thinking but I wouldn’t immediately forget about this girl. The girl who wears granny panties either does not give a fuck, which I wholly respect, does not care what you think because there’s still a kick-ass vagina under there so, so what, which I also respect, or just doesn’t do laundry. (And come on, neither do you let’s be real.) I would say this is a case of peeling back the layers to find the treasure underneath. Don’t judge a book by it’s cover here.
That, or your girl is very innocent and did not expect this encounter to end with sexy times. Oh, so this hook up is a surprise, and maybe she’s embarrassed? Play it off without mentioning it or being rude, and you’re the king.
Might as well have been commando. What are you even covering? Are you a stripper? It’s more than cool if you are. I just don’t know why anyone else would bother unless you’re — oh! Is this a wedding? Are you hooking up at a wedding and didn’t want pantylines? Nice. I change my mind then. This girl is spontaneous and dirty in bed. You probably can’t satisfy her.
Something you have to unbuckle
She’s French. Or she’s about to rock your world. Or both.
Day of the week, cartoon characters
This girl has a real affinity for Zooey Deschanel and coloring books. She’s a manic pixie who never grew up and thinks cutesy will always be in style. If you sleep with this girl, she’s gonna cut out your heads and put them on a heart-shaped doily. You will probably have to marry her.
Unless they’re Spiderman underwear from the boy’s department, in which case, this girl also never grew up but like, in the cool way. Don’t have sex with her. She’d probably rather just trade comic books, go on Tumblr, and listen to Harry and The Potters. You’re actually interrupting her RPG session, so could you like…not.
Stained, ripped, etc. Girl really did not think today was going to end is sexual healing. Are you down with period sex? You should be. If you are, next time she’ll wanna make up for it with some lacy thong action for you. I guarantee it.
Bathing suit bottoms
She’s me on laundry day. Heeeey!