Thephotograph above shows a piece of the downed Boeing 777 about ametre square with a gaping hole in the middle, surrounded bysmaller holes and apparent burn marks, theFinancial Times writes.
DOMINIQUE FAGET/AFP/Getty Images
The wreckage was recovered by the people ofPetropavlovka from a villager's back yard last Thursday and movedto the roadside because it was believed to beimportant.
Two defence analysts in London and a formermilitary pilot who have studied the picture corroborated the claimby a local man, who said he had served in the military, that muchof the damage was consistent with a missilestrike.
Over the weekend, western intelligence agenciespointed to mounting evidence that backs Ukraine's claim that theaircraft with 298 people on board was shot down by mistake bypro-Russian separatists and Russian military personnel with anSA-11 missile launched from a Buk-M1 SAM battery.
Justin Bronk, an analyst at the Royal UnitedServices Institute in London, said: "The size of the shrapnel holesis consistent with what one might expect to see from an SA-11 hit.However, it is difficult to assess the total blast pattern withsuch a small fragment of fuselage."
Another analyst, Douglas Barrie of theInternational Institute for Strategic Studies, said thephotographic evidence "was consistent with the kind of damage youwould expect to see from the detonation of a high explosivefragmentation warhead of the type commonly used in a SAMsystem".
Both analysts cautioned, however, that furtherwork would be needed to ascertain exactly what had happened,including chemical testing for explosive residue.
MalaysiaAirlines Flight MH17
Pieces of wreckage of the Malaysia Airlinesflight MH17 are pictured on July 18, 2014 in Shaktarsk, the dayafter it crashed. Flight MH17 from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, whichUS officials believe was hit by a surface-to-air missile overUkraine, killing all 298 people on board.
News and analysis on the shooting down ofMalaysia Airlines Flight MH17 by a missile over easternUkraine
One former senior Royal Air Force officer whowas shown the picture said he had seen similar damage on aircraftthat had been hit by flying shrapnel from rocket attacks onairbases.
All three experts agreed that the large hole inthe middle of the fragment was likely to have been punched from theinside out as the aircraft rapidly depressurised when it was hit ata height of 33,000ft last Thursday afternoon.
All three confirmed the part of the aircraft inthe photograph was the port side of the Boeing 777's cockpit. Theformer RAF officer, who flew fast jets, said that based on theevidence it would appear that the missile exploded in front and tothe left of the aircraft.
Anti-aircraft missiles are not designed to scorea direct hit as they are targeted to destroy fast, agile fighterjets. Instead, they are designed to explode within about 20m oftheir target, sending out a cloud of red hot metal to increase thechances of inflicting as much damage as possible.
The former RAF pilot said an explosion in frontof the aircraft would be consistent with the interception course aSAM would be expected to follow. "The last thing a ground-launchedmissile wants to do is play catch-up with an aircraft, it wouldlook to get ahead of its target," he said.