Written by Malachy Browne, Evan Hill, Logan Mitchell and Barbara Marcolini (Haley Willis and Ainara Tiefenthäler contributed reporting.)
The New York Times has verified security camera footage Tuesday that shows, for the first time, that two missiles hit Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 on Jan. 8. The missiles were launched from an Iranian military site around 8 miles from the plane.
The new video fills a gap about why the plane’s transponder stopped working, seconds before it was hit by a second missile.
An earlier Times analysis confirmed what Iran later admitted: that an Iranian missile did strike the plane. The Times also established that the transponder stopped working before that missile hit the plane. The new video appears to confirm that an initial strike disabled the transponder, before the second strike, also seen in the video, around 23 seconds later.
Neither strike downed the plane immediately. The new video shows the airliner on fire, circling back toward Tehran’s international airport. Minutes later it exploded and crashed down, narrowly missing the village of Khalaj Abad.
The Times has confirmed that the new video was filmed by a camera on the roof of a building near the village of Bidkaneh, 4 miles from an Iranian military site. Amir Ali Hajizadeh, commander of the Revolutionary Guard’s airspace unit, said that missiles were launched from a base near there.
Iran’s military blamed human error for the strike, and said the plane had been misidentified as a cruise missile flying over Tehran. But the plane’s flight path would suggest otherwise. It was climbing at around 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’s international airport was normal on the morning of Jan. 8, the flight data showed, and Flight 752 followed its regular route. It was one of 19 planes that took off from Tehran in the hours after Iran launched missiles at military bases in Iraq housing U.S. troops.
The new video was uploaded to YouTube by an Iranian user around 2 a.m. Tuesday.
The date visible on the footage is “2019-10-17,” not Jan. 8, the day the plane was downed. We believe this is because the camera system is using a Persian calendar, not a Gregorian one. Jan. 8 converts to the 18th of Dey, the 10th month in the Persian calendar. Digitally that would display as 2019-10-18 in the video. One theory is that the discrepancy of one day can be explained by a difference between Persian and Gregorian leap years or months.
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