Sbirs is also increasingly being used to support nonmilitary operations. Examples include providing data to unravel the sequence of events when a Russian-made BUK, or SA-11, missile shot down Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, killing 283 passengers and 15 crew on July 17, 2014. Though the Air Force is mum on the specific contribution from Sbirs, the system is designed to track missiles in flight and provide data to characterize their type model.
“This is the art of what we do,” says Col. Mike Jackson, 460th operations group commander at Buckley. Officials at the 460th Space Wing also confirmed Sbirs provided technical data to the intelligence community to help solve the mystery of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (MH370), which disappeared over the Indian Ocean in March 2014.