Technology

How to identify who fired a missile in a fatal attack on a country

Investigations into a deadly missile strike in Poland near the Ukrainian border are ongoing while the UK and Western allies have clashed with Russia at the UN Security Council over which country is responsible for the incident.

Poland is leading the investigation to establish exactly what happened in Tuesday’s missile strike, which killed two farm workers in a small village close to the border, with help from Nato allies including the United States,  while Foreign Secretary James Cleverly has told the House of Commons that the UK stands ready to provide practical and technical assistance to the continuing inquiry.

But how can investigators identify which country’s missile caused a fatal strike?

It has been suggested that a Ukrainian air-defense missile caused the deadly explosion on Polish territory, countering initial claims that the missiles were fired by Russia, while UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak believes blame for the missiles “belongs solely to Russia”.

The Prime Minister noted it is possible the explosion, which killed two people, was caused by Ukrainian munition deployed in self-defence, but said Ukraine could not be blamed for trying to defend itself.

Investigating a missile strike can be extremely challenging, relying primarily on the remnants of the wreckage and cross-referencing.

Retired Colonel Mark Cancian told Forces News that at first when it comes to identifying the type of missile it is "done from the wreckage... missile explodes the wreckage doesn't disappear, it's scatted over a wide area and that wreckage can be examined and compared to known photographs and known information about other kinds of missiles."

Forces News has asked the question, can you ever conclusively prove who pressed 'fire'?