Iran Says Radar Operator "Forgot" To Make Crucial Adjustment, Leading To Airline Downing

Iran has made a key announcement revealing shocking details behind the tragic downing of Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752 shortly after it took off from Tehran Imam Khomeini International Airport on January 8. All 176 passengers and crew were killed when it exploded in the sky after direct missile impact. 

Recall that the Islamic Republic and the US were on the brink of war over the US assassination by drone of IRGC Quds Force chief Qassem Soleimani in Baghdad days prior, and that two surface-to-air missiles took out the passenger aircraft, mistaking it for an inbound American attack. 

After six Iranians were arrested in June over the accidental shoot down, with no details or identification given, Tehran officials announced Saturday that it was ultimately triggered by human error related to monitoring defensive radar. Personnel "forgot" to make a crucial radar adjustment after resetting the defensive system, Iran's Civil Aviation Organization (CAO) said.

Wreckage from downed Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, image via Wikimedia Commons.

Bloomberg writes of the new findings

An Iranian air defense unit that “forgot” to adjust its radar system triggered a chain of communication and human errors that led to the deadly downing of a Ukrainian passenger jet in January, according to a report from Iran’s Civil Aviation Organization.

The report further underscored that it was an isolated but devastating error that did not pass through the chain of command.

"The operator of the air defense system launched a missile at what it had detected as a hostile target without response from the command center," CAO said its report, which also detailed that authorities were not informed before the launch.

Stillframe footage of horrific aftermath, via BBC.

The two missiles were fired about 30 seconds apart, targeting what ground units thought was a cruise missile. Data from the passenger airline's black box is not expected to be decoded starting until July 20.

At the time Iran was fully expecting to come under attack given soaring tensions with the US in neighboring Iran and stated threats with warnings of "red lines" out of the Trump administration.