U.S. satellite shows heat flash when Russian Metrojet plane crashed, but no missile

10:34, 03 November 2015
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An American infrared satellite detected a heat flash at the same time and in the same vicinity over the Sinai where the Russian passenger plane crashed, a senior defense official told NBC News late Monday.

REUTERS

According to the official, U.S. intelligence analysts believe it could have been some kind of explosion on the aircraft itself, either a fuel tank or a bomb, but that there's no indication that a surface-to-air missile brought the plane down.

That same infrared satellite would have been able to track the heat trail of a missile from the ground.

"The speculation that this plane was brought down by a missile is off the table," the official said, NBC News said.

A second senior U.S. defense official also confirmed the surveillance satellite detected a "flash or explosion" in the air over the Sinai at the same time.

According to the official, "the plane disintegrated at a very high altitude," when, as the infrared satellite indicates, "there was an explosion of some kind."

That official also stressed "there is no evidence a missile of any kind brought down the plane."

The Metrojet-operated Airbus A321 crashed Saturday in Egypt's Sinai peninsula, killing all 224 on board. The local ISIS affiliate claimed responsibility for shooting it down — but officials dismissed that as impossible by saying the militants lacked the weapons to do so.

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