The S300 Russian Missile that hit Poland

Ukraine YouTuber Denys Davydov speculates  a cover-up: Update from Ukraine | NATO doesn’t want to respond on Poland attack by Ruzzia | Here is the evidence. It’s plausible;  watch the video. He does not claim fact or proof. Neither do I. What follows is an attempt to construct a plausible companion story, A Tale of Two Missiles.

Consult Google Earth, and put a pin in Przewodow, Poland. The range of the S300 missile in the adapted ground-to-ground role is not known. Energy considerations suggest about 30% further than ground-to-air. There is a single stage version, and a two-stage version, so the maximum range is a spread of 75 to 150 miles. So for Russia to  hit a target near Lviv , a launch point in Belarus is required. Crimea, or even Melitipol, is too distant.

A convenient launch site has nearby infrastructure, which is scarce in southwest Belarus. For this story, the vicinity of Brest is proposed as the launch site. Put a pin in it, and use the Google Earth “ruler” tool. A Russian missile overflies Przewodow on the way to Lviv.

Approaching Przewodow, the Russian S300 missile is spotted by Ukrainian S300 radar. In order to have enough time to intercept, the Ukrainians launch their S300 missile while the Russian missile is still overflying Polish territory.

In the original ground-to-air role, it maneuvers by two means:

  • Thrust vectoring vanes in the exhaust.
  • Movable external fins.

The solid fuel propulsion functions only in the first (WAG) 30 seconds of a 3 to 5 minute flight. As  the missile descends towards the target, it has only the fins.

The Russian S300 missile has been jerry-rigged for ground-to-ground with a new guidance package, while using the above means in a sub-optimal way. Since the S300 was not designed for ground-to-ground, this part of the control system is under-engineered.

If you’re familiar with the history of Saddam Hussein’s Scud missiles, you can anticipate what happens next. The control system isn’t good at using the fins; it goes out of control. The Russian S300 starts to tumble, increasing aerodynamic drag, causing it to fall short of Ukraine, crashing in Poland instead. It may even break up. The Ukraine S300 follows it down, correctly self-destructing.  The crash site is littered with the remains of two missiles.

Sticky point: The Russian missile warhead likely caused the fatalities, unless the victims were actually struck by the shattered bits of the Ukraine air frame.

Even if this story turns out to be somewhat descriptive, it would not be an important truth. Neither would what actually happened to Nordstream (Who Sabotaged Nordstream Pipelines?)

If the facts are obscured by fibs, the fibs are barely audible over the cacophony of Russian lies. See Otto Warmbier; When is it OK to Lie?