Let’s say you get intercepted by F16’s…

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by RyanB, Sep 12, 2021.

  1. RyanB

    RyanB Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    I was reflecting on 9/11 a little bit earlier by listening to some ATC recordings as the events unfolded and it brings up a question that I’ve often wondered.

    Let’s say you hypothetically find yourself intercepted by F-16’s. In reality, what can they do? They don’t have control of your aircraft, so the term ‘intercepted’ doesn’t seem totally accurate. The ATC tapes from 9/11 had a couple instances where they called for some F-16’s to scramble and intercept the hijacked aircraft, but I don’t understand how that would’ve made any difference in the outcome. So they have fighter jets trailing them, so what? The hijackers are still in control of the aircraft and will still do what they want, so what are the interceptors really accomplishing aside from being able to better see the aircraft and what it’s doing?
     
  2. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Pattern Altitude

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    The F16’s were armed, and a decision would be made to shoot down the airliner.

    There’s some stuff written about the moment by moment decisions. A shoot down was considered.
     
  3. luvflyin

    luvflyin Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    https://skiesmag.com/news/911-fighter-pilot-failed-mission-take-down-flight-93/
     
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  4. TCABM

    TCABM Pattern Altitude

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    You gotta land sooner or later.
     
  5. RyanB

    RyanB Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    Interesting, I haven’t heard about that. Even then, that seems like a lesser of two evils situation. Do you target and shoot down a passenger jet killing all aboard and potentially a lot on the ground or let it continue its undetermined course?

    The interceptors would’ve really been damned if they shot it down, only to find out it was planning to land and hold the passengers and crew hostage.
     
  6. Doc Holliday

    Doc Holliday Pattern Altitude

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    There’s been a lot written about it. I believe VP Cheney was interviewed and asked about it during the interview.
     
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  7. luvflyin

    luvflyin Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    I worked at Los Angeles Center then. For about year or so after it happened there we're Air Force Officers there at all times. There were often F something or anothers, I think it was 16's, parked in a pattern over Los Angeles at FL210 if I remember right. They was armed and the guys from I'm assuming it was NORAD were there to make sure some Controller didn't eff things up if the poop hit the fan.
     
    Last edited: Sep 12, 2021
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  8. Skip Miller

    Skip Miller Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I believe that the F-16s scrambled to intercept Flight 93 in Pennsylvania were not armed, and there was no time to arm them. The two-ship lead intended to ram Flight 93 and his wing person (a woman) was set to do the same if the airliner didn’t go down. Essentially they took off on what they knew was a suicide mission. That became unnecessary when Flight 93 went down at the hands of the hijackers.

    -Skip
     
  9. Daleandee

    Daleandee Pattern Altitude

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    Can't really know what a sicko terrorist might have in their head but it might be that a few shakes with some wake turbulence from an F-16 might have deterred them enough to distract them away from the highly populated areas.

    If this scenario worked really well the distraction might allow the passengers to capture the bad guys and let them play D.B Cooper without the aid of a chute.
     
  10. gearFX

    gearFX Filing Flight Plan

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    Per National Geographic interview with Heather “Lucky” Penney, the aircraft were not armed (no time to wait), and the plan was she would ram the tail while her commanding officer would ram the cockpit of Flight 93.
     
  11. Jeff767

    Jeff767 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Not very likely given the events of the last 2 hours.
     
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  12. Jeff767

    Jeff767 Pre-takeoff checklist

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    A F16 might cause a small thump for a 757. Nothing that’s going to scare or toss anyone around.
     
  13. Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe

    Capt. Geoffrey Thorpe Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    Cessna 172, Jan. 5 2002
    "While en route to the building, the Coast Guard helicopter pilots intercepted the airplane and attempted to signal the pilot to land. According to the helicopter pilots, the student pilot saw their hand gestures and gestured back to them; however, the helicopter pilots could not determine the kind and meaning of the gestures that the student pilot exhibited. Shortly thereafter, the airplane impacted the office building at the 28th-floor level."
    https://app.ntsb.gov/pdfgenerator/R...tID=20020110X00053&AKey=1&RType=HTML&IType=FA
     
  14. Velocity173

    Velocity173 Touchdown! Greaser! PoA Supporter

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    The DC ANG F-16s (Heather Penny)were unarmed but she never would have gotten the chance to ram Flight 93. Langley already had armed F-16s (Ouit 25/26) overhead the Capital at that time. Even that’s a moot point since the directive to shootdown any hijacked aircraft didn’t get to the military until around 1031. Flight 93, if it had continued to DC would’ve impacted something by that time.

    Disregarding the 9/11 dilemma and confusion on the part of ATC / air defense, the purpose of a TFR intercept today is early warning. Doesn’t matter if the aircraft doesn’t comply. My old unit patrolled the ADIZ for a bit and their helicopters weren’t even armed. Their job was to intercept, ID, report and escort the aircraft out of the ADIZ. If they don’t comply? Oh well, it’s not their responsibility.
     
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  15. RyanB

    RyanB Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    What do you mean?
     
  16. RyanShort1

    RyanShort1 En-Route

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  17. RyanShort1

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    Not if it deliberately rams a flight control...
     
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  18. sourdough44

    sourdough44 Pattern Altitude

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    Don’t forget to dial up 121.5, talk, & follow instructions.
     
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  19. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 Final Approach

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    Bingo. And hoo boy, have you said a mouthful, my clued-in friend.

    At this juncture, I'd expand on that and really dive into the nuances behind the storyline that nepotism poster child has been peddling to the media circles for the last 20 years, but I'd just get flamed/misogynist-smeared on here. So I won't bother with the insider baseball on here. Public relations needs their 10% stories, little girls need their aspirational archetypes, and VeTeRaNs need their motivational speaker tours and book deals. Nothing new under the sun.

    For those who are still actively flying the "boring", unassuming, groundhog day, daily "scutwork" away from the fanfare and media glory, the reality is much more nuanced but very much clear: As you highlight, those DC ANG birds were never going to be faced with acting on that Japanese banzai charge of a mythologized hypothetical.

    I'll throw this in closing since I can't help myself: Let's just thank our lucky stars Insta and monetized YT accounts weren't in existence in 2001. And now I really digress! :D
     
  20. Silvaire

    Silvaire En-Route

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    The original post was about the F-16 disrupting the flight with "wake turbulence", not physically ramming it. I think a lot of readers missed that.
     
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  21. EdFred

    EdFred Taxi to Parking

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    Probably because somebody else had already brought up the ramming of the 737 so the rest of us had moved on to ramming
     
  22. cowman

    cowman En-Route PoA Supporter

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    If you want some historical context, prior to 9/11 hijackers usually wanted to make a political statement or demand a ransom and had no intention of crashing the plane. This is why they reacted the way they did initially. The tried and true strategy at that point had always been to go along with the hijackers demands until they landed and became easy to deal with on the ground.

    Given that reality and the lack of warning it’s surprising a shoot down order was being considered so quickly. At the time it would have been unheard of and a very gutsy call to be responsible for.
     
  23. RyanShort1

    RyanShort1 En-Route

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    I bet a high alpha afterburner pass might do some damage... I can't find it, but I'm nearly certain I've read about a larger Arab helicopter being knocked out of the sky by an IDF / IAF jet passing over it and using afterburner after it ran out of ammo.
     
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  24. geezer

    geezer Pre-takeoff checklist

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    The facts discussed in this thread show just how critical to our present state of government is the result in the decision of Todd Beamer and his new found friends.

    They did the equivalent of a Kamikaze crash of the 737, and changed history.

    Those unruly passengers with a true mission succeeded while the politicians and military waffled.

    Cell phones were the other key ingredient that created the emotional drive to change their destiny, even if they could not save their lives. Life ended at near the speed of sound, at "No Where, Pennsylvania". A place that is now, very much somewhere, and a road goes there .
     
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  25. TCABM

    TCABM Pattern Altitude

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    Thought you were talking about Martha McSally just then…
     
  26. hindsight2020

    hindsight2020 Final Approach

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    #oof. Yeah that's another household name in the aforementioned circles. I'll let that skeleton lie, hopefully no more cringe political bids on her end occur, where she instantly pivots to her questionable time in the A10 as a renewed source of embellishment.
     
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  27. Daleandee

    Daleandee Pattern Altitude

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    Well ... might have to get closer with some full after burner:

     
  28. benyflyguy

    benyflyguy En-Route PoA Supporter

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    Gonna hit the brakes and he’ll fly right by
     
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  29. Lindberg

    Lindberg En-Route

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    Nobody's going to shoot down an airliner here. I'd bet considerable money on that. For starters, you'd have to have a situation like Flight 93 where there's 100% certainty the aircraft is targeting something, and you'd need no other options and the opportunity to shoot down without risking collateral damage. Those circumstances are exceedingly unlikely to occur.

    I'm not saying there aren't protocols for it and people haven't talked about it and said they'd do it, I'm just saying it's not gonna happen.
     
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  30. woodchucker

    woodchucker Pattern Altitude

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    Right. But a shoot down could have happened and likely should have happened on that fateful day (noting that the preparedness in place wasn’t any different than Pearl Harbor). In actuality far less. In other words things aren’t much different now than they were in the ‘40s or the ‘00s.

    The passengers on that flight who took action are heroes. Will a day like this happen again? The universe owned 8-ball says “outcome likely”. I disagree with your premise that some form of attack won’t happen again. Pearl Harbor? WTC (twice)? It will happen again. Will we have the intelligence and political fortitude required to fend it off? That is a separate question. Our intelligence community has been proven to be worthless. Don’t count on the TSA to be even half as good. Or a tenth as good.

    The US will be attacked again. More than likely a small nuke is my guess. Probably a port city. But anything is possible. I understand that my comment goes beyond your post. Just imagining general scenarios.
     
  31. RyanShort1

    RyanShort1 En-Route

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    And now that we DO know that a plane could be used as a weapon, any fighter pilot worth their salt is going to keep a shootdown in mind as a possible necessity.
     
  32. cruiserandmax

    cruiserandmax Filing Flight Plan

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    For reference here is what happens when a Saratoga gets intercepted by an F-16(according to the youtube title image) (about a month ago):
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2021
  33. Ed Haywood

    Ed Haywood Line Up and Wait

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    Truth aside, I never understood that "ram the cockpit" plan. Seems like a more survivable approach would be to shear the wing off outboard of the engine, or even try flipping the jet by getting under a wingtip and pulling up.

    My favorite 911 story is from a friend who was the White House director of IT. He was walking through the underground tunnel that connects the Annex, and saw a group of men running his way carrying something under their arms like a log or a roll of carpet. When they got closer, he saw that they were Secret Service agents, and they were carrying Dick Cheney. They stopped right in front of him and an elevator door opened. He followed them onto the elevator, and wound up locked in a bunker for a week with the VP.
     
  34. Silvaire

    Silvaire En-Route

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    Well they had pretty sophisticated ejection systems. Risky yes but I doubt they were intending to commit suicide. The intent was most likely to get away with it.
     
  35. Pugs

    Pugs Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    I wonder how many GA intercepts there have been the last 20 years? I was on the way up to Reading PA for the NE Piper fly-in on Saturday and there was someone getting the full treatment including being intercepted.
     
  36. Lindberg

    Lindberg En-Route

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    "As a possible necessity?" Sure. As a practical reality? No.

    Shooting down an airliner means killing 4 terrorists along with 50-200 civilians, plus the damage on the ground. We wouldn't even accept collateral damage like that when droning terrorists in a warzone where the civilians aren't fellow Americans.

    And anything smaller than an airliner is unlikely to do more damage than the falling debris, so there's no reason to shoot it down.
     
  37. Piperonca

    Piperonca Pre-takeoff checklist PoA Supporter

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    Wonder why the media didn't report that, or maybe I missed it? Source?
     
  38. RyanB

    RyanB Administrator Management Council Member PoA Supporter

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    In hindsight, it should’ve been shot down, as the death count would’ve certainly been much, much lower, but that’s easy to say after the fact, when nobody knew where the aircraft’s were headed. The AAL11 hijacker said they were returning to the airport, so for all they knew, it could’ve landed and the hijackers we’re going to hold everyone hostage.
     
  39. Jim K

    Jim K Pattern Altitude PoA Supporter

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    Really getting into fantasy land here, but could the exhaust of a fighter be used to cause a flameout?
     
  40. Pugs

    Pugs Line Up and Wait PoA Supporter

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    If you're interested in what was going on during 9/11 with ADC and others, I recommend the book https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0015DYJT4/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

    Some interesting insights and at least one case where it shows how rumors of flight 93 being shot down occurred. I can verify the story about VMFA-321 is true as we shared a hangar with them at NAF Andrews and I was there to see their jets on the line turning as they wanted to get in the fight in those unknown times.