Originally posted by ixiy
The american air force which before 9/11 normally intercepted most cilvilan air craft within minutes when informed that there was aterrorist take
over, fail to intercept most of the air craft that were being taken hostage in 9/11 as they were slow to react, as they were to shocked and awed by
Actually that's not accurate with regards to the intercept times-
First of all, with the exception of Payne Stewart's plane's interception, there are rarely if any intercepts over the CONUS.
Intercepts Not Routine
CLAIM: "It has been standard operating procedures for decades to immediately intercept off-course planes that do not respond to communications from
air traffic controllers," says the Web site oilempire.us. "When the Air Force 'scrambles' a fighter plane to intercept, they usually reach the
plane in question in minutes."
FACT: In the decade before 9/11, NORAD intercepted only one civilian plane over North America: golfer Payne Stewart's Learjet, in October 1999. With
passengers and crew unconscious from cabin decompression, the plane lost radio contact but remained in transponder contact until it crashed. Even so,
it took an F-16 1 hour and 22 minutes to reach the stricken jet. Rules in effect back then, and on 9/11, prohibited supersonic flight on intercepts.
Prior to 9/11, all other NORAD interceptions were limited to offshore Air Defense Identification Zones (ADIZ).
No Stand-Down Order
CLAIM: No fighter jets were scrambled from any of the 28 Air Force bases within close range of the four hijacked flights. "On 11 September Andrews
had two squadrons of fighter jets with the job of protecting the skies over Washington D.C.," says the Web site emperors-clothes.com. "They failed
to do their job." "There is only one explanation for this," writes Mark R. Elsis of StandDown.net. "Our Air Force was ordered to Stand Down on
FACT: On 9/11 there were only 14 fighter jets on alert in the contiguous 48 states. No computer network or alarm automatically alerted the North
American Air Defense Command (NORAD) of missing planes. "They [civilian Air Traffic Control, or ATC] had to pick up the phone and literally dial
us," says Maj. Douglas Martin, public affairs officer for NORAD. Boston Center, one of 22 Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) regional ATC
facilities, called NORAD's Northeast Air Defense Sector (NEADS) three times: at 8:37 am EST to inform NEADS that Flight 11 was hijacked; at 9:21 am
to inform the agency, mistakenly, that Flight 11 was headed for Washington (the plane had hit the North Tower 35 minutes earlier); and at 9:41 am to
(erroneously) identify Delta Air Lines Flight 1989 from Boston as a possible hijacking. The New York ATC called NEADS at 9:03 am to report that United
Flight 175 had been hijacked--the same time the plane slammed into the South Tower. Within minutes of that first call from Boston Center, NEADS
scrambled two F-15s from Otis Air Force Base in Falmouth, Mass., and three F-16s from Langley Air National Guard Base in Hampton, Va. None of the
fighters got anywhere near the pirated planes.
Why couldn't ATC find the hijacked flights? When the hijackers turned off the planes' transponders, which broadcast identifying signals, ATC had to
search 4500 identical radar blips crisscrossing some of the country's busiest air corridors. And NORAD's sophisticated radar? It ringed the
continent, looking outward for threats, not inward. "It was like a doughnut," Martin says. "There was no coverage in the middle." Pre-9/11,
flights originating in the States were not seen as threats and NORAD wasn't prepared to track them.
The size and composition of 1st Air Force's flying unit force structure continued to be a major issue during the transition. Over recent decades, the
air defense interceptor force defending North America had been dramatically reduced from a high of 2,600 dedicated aircraft (including the Royal
Canadian Air Force) in 1958. It had shrunk to 20 ANG fighters at 10 alert locations for CONAR by February 1996. However, 1st Air Force continued to
face strong budgetary pressures to either eliminate or dramatically reduce dedicated ANG fighter interceptor units for the air defense and air