Ukraine International Airlines Flight 752, a three year old Boeing 737-800, carrying 176 people crashed after departing Imam Khomeini International Airport en route to Kyiv, Ukraine early Wednesday. Best evidence suggests that it was taken down by a Russian Tor missile system. The Tor is an all-weather low to medium altitude, short-range surface-to-air missile system designed for destroying airplanes, helicopters, cruise missiles, precision guided munitions, unmanned aerial vehicles and short-range ballistic threats.
It was likely put in “automatic mode” wherein it would engage any aircraft within a range specified by the operator that was heading toward it. There are assumptions afoot backed by evidence, that it was in place to defend Iranian missile batteries from a US counterattack. Flight 752 was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
I could sit here and beat up the Iranians, but I recall the USS Vincennes (CG-49) on July 3, 1988, also made a horrible mistake. USGOV admitted to the mistake by the captain and crew of Vincennes that led to downing of Iran Air 655 (an Airbus 300). (more about that here)
Circumstances notwithstanding, civilian flights should be grounded when offensive operations are underway. It’s easy for me to write this, but things happen. There’s also Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 that was dropped by a 9M38 SAM as it flew over Ukraine.