Yesterday on Feb 16 2016 early in morning at 8:18 am Russian troops used “TOR” SAM aka SA-15 “Gauntlet” in Lugansk city which is controlled by militants of so-called Lugansk People’s Republic. The sound of heavy explosion was heard in the city center, West and South of Lugansk. The rocket exploded about 40 seconds later (some locals report from 1 to 2 min after first sound of explosion) in the air above dense residential area, the head of the rocket was found in the South part of Lugansk also in dense residential area. Luckily nobody got wounded and no damages reported. So far there is no information about the target (could be Ukrainian drone). Ukraine doesn’t have “TOR” missile systems since 2001. 1st time “TOR” was spotted as part of Russian military convoy moving through the territory of Lugansk Region in Krasnodon town, it was going in the direction of Russian border on September 3 2014. See report with videos about that in English here.
Local residents took several photos of the head of 9M331 missile which is used by Russian “TOR” SAM system. You can compare to high-res photo of the head of the rocket posted at Wikipedia
Here is also another photo of the remains of of 9M331 missile that was used during military excises in Russian Federation. As you can see it perfectly matches the part of the rocket found in Lugansk.
Below more photos of the head of the rocket. As you can see it landed very close to the houses. People in the military uniform are militants of so-called Lugansk People’s Republic (LPT) who arrived very fast after the incident was reported. They removed remains of the rocket before any local media got to the place. This incident was not reported by any official media that represent LPR authorities.
Shortly after the incident the video was posted. In the video you can see same area and same crater from the impact. But the head part of the rocket was already removed.
See the video below.
We talked to a witness who saw smoke trail going high in the air immediately after the loud sound of explosion. Similar smoke trail was photographed after BUK launch that shot down MH17 flight.
I woke up at 9:18 am (local time in Lugansk is same as in Moscow right now, Kiev time was 8:18). I could see Kambrod (area of Lugansk) very clear from the balcony. There was huge smoke trail somewhere behind Gorkiy Park, like something exploded. But it disappeared fast because of the wind… The rocket could be launched from Aleksandrovsk military training ground, that was the trail from the launch that I saw. The smoke trail was very high… That was the first explosion that I missed. Shortly after that the rocket exploded… and it exploded so loud that all city could hear…
Just behind the Gorkiy Park there is military training ground. So that location is perfect for the launch and matches to what witnesses reported.
Other witnesses reported the location where the rocket actually exploded in the air. That happened about 4.6 km from the rocket launch site. After explosion small debris started to fall down on the ground.
I was inside my apartment when I heard first explosion. After that I went to the window and about 25 seconds later I heard second explosion. And I saw how small black debris were falling down on the roof of the building in front of my house.
Militants immediately arrived to that location and they were collecting even smallest debris, like 5 cm in size. That process took them several hours and they left the area only after 2 pm (local Lugansk time). Residents saw some parts that could be remains of the body of the rocket and tail. One of the militants was securing the location and there was some flat piece (black color) 15 x 25 cm in size on the ground and another round piece (also black color) about 30 cm in diameter with two wires sticking out of it.
Below we marked everything on the Google Map: the launch site, location where the rocket exploded, area where debris were found and exact location where the head of the rocket landed leaving small crater in the ground.
We also marked same data in the picture below.
The maximum distance “TOR” rocket can travel is 12 km. It’s about 20 km to the nearest Ukrainian Army positions. Separatists media totally ignored the incident like nothing happened. More likely “TOR” SAM system was delivered from Russia and it was operated by Russian soldiers. That’s why authorities of so-called Lugansk People’s Republic are trying to hide the incident. Observers from OSCE Special Monitoring Mission already visited location where the head of the rocket found, but there is no report from them about that yet.