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Numerical simulation of blast loading on Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 due to a warhead detonation (U)


Publisher: TNO
Place: Rijswijk
Identifier: 529018
Report number: TNO 2015 M10626
Keywords: Fragmentation · Accident investigation · Impact · Observation, Weapon & Protection Systems · WS - Weapon Systems


The Dutch Safety Board (DSB) investigates the crash of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 which occured on Thursday July 17, 2014 in the Donetsk region (Ukraine). The DSB wants to provide a clear picture of the cause of the crash. A possible cause is fatal damage to the aircraft due to detonation of the warhead of a guided weapon. TNO was asked to analyse the observed damage on recovered parts of the aircraft, in search for damage that is typically caused by a warhead detonation. TNO was able to establish a probable detonation point for a fragmenting warhead through a combination of damage characterisation and terminal ballistics simulations [1]. A fragmenting warhead causes damage due to impacting fragments and explosive overpressure (blast). The observed damage to the aircraft revealed a pattern of perforations that is typical for a warhead with preformed fragments. Damage due to blast, as far as this could be confirmed, supports the findings. Fragments with enough kinetic energy are able to destroy critical components deep inside the aircraft. Sufficiently strong blast is able to destroy a wide surface area on the aircraft. Combined effects, such as blast loading on already weakened structures due to fragment impacts or heat from the explosion, may further enhance the damage potential. The DSB wants to know if blast from the warhead is able to damage or destroy parts of the aircraft. To assess the damage potential of blast one must establish the amount of blast loading that is exerted locally on the aircraft, and the aircraft’s response to the load. The research question is about the first step of such an assessment: what is the local blast loading on the aircraft as a result of the detonation of the warhead? The objective of this investigation is to establish the blast pressure evolution for a number of discrete points on the aircraft contour. This information can be used by the DSB to predict possible failure of the aircraft structure. A so-called Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD) simulation has been performed to provide high-fidelity quantitative description of the blast loading. This study uses classified data as described in the Wet Bescherming Staatsgeheimen. The text of this report has been inspected and released for publication by the Netherlands Ministry of Defence. In order to calculate the pressure evolution, a detailed three-dimensional CFD calculation has been performed with the AUTODYN software. In the simulation the warhead is detonated at the probable position and orientation with respect to the aircraft. The setup of the simulations is described in Chapter 2, whereas the simulations results are presented in Chapter 3.