The New York Times on Tuesday verified security camera images showing, for the first time, that two missiles reached Ukraine International Airlines flight 752 on January 8. The missiles were launched from an Iranian military site about 13 kilometers from the plane.
The new video fills a void about why the plane’s transponder stopped working, seconds before being hit by a second missile.
An earlier analysis of the Times confirmed what Iran later admitted: that an Iranian missile hit the plane. The Times also established that the transponder stopped working before the missile hit the plane. The new video seems to confirm that an initial attack disabled the transponder, before the second attack, also seen in the video, about 23 seconds later.
No strike shot down the plane immediately. The new video shows the plane on fire, circling towards the international airport of Tehran. Minutes later it exploded and collapsed, missing the village of Khalaj Abad, which is shown in a previous reconstruction video of the Times.
The Times confirmed that the new video was filmed by a camera on the roof of a building near the village of Bidkaneh, four miles from an Iranian military site. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the airspace unit of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, said that missiles were launched from a base near there.
Iran’s army blamed human error for the attack and said the plane had been mistakenly identified as a cruise missile flying over Tehran. But the plane’s flight route would suggest otherwise. It was climbing at about 2,000 feet per minute on its ascent from the airport when the first missile was fired, according to a Times analysis of flight data.
Flight activity from Tehran International Airport was normal on the morning of January 8, flight data was shown, and flight 752 followed its regular route. It was one of the 19 planes that took off from Tehran in the hours after Iran launched missiles at military bases in Iraq that housed US troops.
The new video was uploaded to YouTube by an Iranian user around 2 a.m. on Tuesday.
The date visible in the footage is “2019-10-17”, not January 8, the day the plane was shot down. We believe this is because the camera system is using a Persian calendar, not a Gregorian one. On January 8 it becomes Dey 18, the tenth month in the Persian calendar. Digitally, that would show up as 2019-10-18 in the video. One theory is that the discrepancy of a day can be explained by a difference between Persian and Gregorian leap years.
Haley Willis and Ainara Tiefenthäler contributed reports.