Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
Why Didn't Those F-15s Shoot Down That Stolen Commercial Airliner In Seattle?
When a rogue civilian airliner took off from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport last Friday, the military responded with a multifaceted, coordinated effort between two F-15 Eagle pilots, said officials at North American Aerospace Defense Command and the Defense Department.
But days after the incident, it remains unclear why military officials and the F-15 pilots agreed not to shoot down the aircraft, given concerns the pilot might deliberately crash it into a populated area.
"We cannot speculate the various considerations and decision-making processes that led to the decision to not shoot, but can confirm that they did not," Air Force Capt. Cameron Hillier, a NORAD spokesman, told Military.com on Wednesday. "While the fighters are armed during intercept missions as part of Operation Noble Eagle, the F-15 has a wide range of response options available, depending on the circumstances. They could shadow, intercept, escort or provide aid as required."
Hillier said officials at NORAD, the Air Force's air operations center, and officials "at many levels," including the Office of the Secretary of Defense, monitored the situation as it unfolded Friday evening.
"Through it all, there was a call not to take the shot," he said. An after-action report is in the works but will not be made public as it is classified, he added.
A Horizon Air employee, later identified as ground service agent Richard Russell, stole the empty aircraft Friday evening, flying it south of Seattle just before crashing into Ketron Island in the Puget Sound, roughly 35 miles south of the airport. Russell, 29, died in the crash.
This undated image posted to Richard Russell's YouTube channel shows Russell, an airline ground agentAssociated Press photo
Two F-15Cs from the Oregon Air National Guard's 142nd Fighter Wing launched in response to the stolen Bombardier Q400 turboprop aircraft, which belonged to Alaska Airlines. The Q400 can seat 76 passengers and four crew at full capacity.
The fighters "were directed to fly supersonic to expedite the intercept," NORAD said in a statement following the incident. The pilots attempted to redirect the aircraft over the Pacific Ocean, it added.
The F-15C can carry a mix of AIM-9L/M Sidewinder short-range air-to-air missiles and AIM-120 advanced medium-range air-to-air missiles. It also has one internally mounted 20mm Gatling gun in the right-wing root, according to the Air Force.
The ideal resolution would have been for Russell to land the Q400 at a remote location, Hillier said. "Effort one was to get him on the ground, but the pilot gets a vote in that."
An air traffic controller tried to convince Russell to land at nearby Joint Base Lewis-McChord, according to audio recordings that surfaced on social media. However, he continued flying and performing aerial acrobatics before ultimately crashing.
NORAD said that while the situation at Sea-Tac was "unique," it is tasked with monitoring many intercepts every year as part of Operation Noble Eagle, the operation name for all air sovereignty and defense missions in North America.
"NORAD has conducted more than 1,800 intercepts of non-military aircraft since September 11, 2001," Hillier said. "While the majority of intercepts are conducted in the United States, NORAD focuses on the defense of both the U.S. and Canada and draws on forces from both countries as mission requirements dictate."
This story originally appeared on Military.com
Read more from Military.com
- This Command Center Keeps Air Traffic Away from Mar-a-Lago
- F-15s Scrambled After Sea-Tac Airline Worker Takes Plane; Spree Ends in Crash
- From a Small Center in Florida, Airmen Help Rescue Civilians
BAGHDAD (Reuters) - A rocket was fired in Iraqi capital Baghdad's heavily-fortified Green Zone, which houses government buildings and foreign embassies, but caused no casualties, the Iraqi military said on Sunday.
A blast was heard in central Baghdad on Sunday night, Reuters witnesses said and two Baghdad-based diplomatic sources also said they heard the blast.
Officers from the California Highway Patrol arrested a homeless man Thursday morning after he allegedly threw a stolen Caltrans tripod onto Interstate 5 in downtown Sacramento, endangering the occupants of a van as it crashed through its windshield.
The incident happened just after 10:30 a.m., when the Caltrans survey tripod was stolen from the corner of Neasham Circle and Front Street, CHP South Sacramento said in a news release.
KABUL (Reuters) - Afghanistan's parliament descended into chaos on Sunday when lawmakers brawled over the appointment of a new speaker, an inauspicious start to the assembly which was sitting for the first time since chaotic elections last year.
Results of last October's parliamentary election were only finalized earlier this month after repeated technical and organizational problems and widespread accusations of fraud.
A VA worker survived a shooting at his hospital. Now he's stuck in a 'bizarre' maze of federal workers' comp claims
RIVIERA BEACH — When a distraught patient opened fire at the VA Medical Center in February, Albert Gaines' long ago military training kicked into gear.
"When I saw the arm come up, I knew what was next, pow, pow, pow," said Gaines, who was doing his job, cleaning patient rooms, when gunfire erupted. "I hit the deck to minimize the target."
Now, three months after what his bosses at the hospital call "the active shooter incident," the 65-year-old Riviera Beach man still feels like a target is on him.
President Donald Trump could issue a pardon on Memorial Day for Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher, former Special Forces Maj. Matthew Golsteyn, and Marine Scout Snipers accused of urinating on Taliban corpses, the New York Times is reporting.
The White House is working with the Justice Department and military services to get the paperwork necessary for the pardons in order, according to the Times.