A misaligned missile battery, miscommunication between troops and their commanders and a decision to fire without authorization all led to Iran‘s Revolutionary Guard shooting down a Ukrainian jetliner in January, killing all 176 people on board, a new report says.
The report released late Saturday by Iran‘s Civil Aviation Organization comes months after the Jan. 8 crash near Tehran.
Authorities had initially denied responsibility, only changing course days later after Western nations presented extensive evidence that Iran had shot down the plane.
The report may signal a new phase in the investigation into the crash, as the aircraft’s black box flight recorder is due to be sent to Paris, where international investigators will finally be able to examine it.
It also comes as public opinion remains low over Iran’s government as it faces both crushing U.S. sanctions and vast domestic economic problems.
The shootdown happened the same night Iran launched a ballistic missile attack targeting U.S. soldiers in Iraq, its response to the American drone strike that killed Guard Gen. Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad on Jan. 3.
At the time, Iranian troops were bracing for a U.S. counterstrike and appear to have mistaken the plane for a missile.
The civil aviation report does not acknowledge that, only saying a change in the “alertness level of Iran’s air defense” allowed previously scheduled air traffic to resume.
The report detailed a series of moments where the shootdown of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 could have been avoided.
The report said the surface-to-air missile battery that targeted the Boeing 737-800 had been relocated and was not properly reoriented.
Those manning the missile battery could not communicate with their command center, they misidentified the civilian flight as a threat and opened fire twice without getting approval from ranking officials, the report said.
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