THE NORAD RESPONSE TO 9/11
NORAD’s MISSION AND INTERCEPT PROCEEDURESNorth America is surrounded by an area called the Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ), which is jointly administered by the
Continguous U.S. ADIZ.
The area bounded by a line from 43°15'N, 65°55'W; 44°21'N; 67°16'W; 43°10'N; 69°40'W; 41°05'N; 69°40'W; 40°32'N; 72°15'W; 39°55'N; 73°00'W; 39°38'N; 73°00'W; 39°36'N; 73°40'W; 37°00'N; 75°30'W; 36°10'N; 75°10'W; 35°10'N; 75°10'W; 32°00'N; 80°30'W; 30°30'N; 81°00'W; 26°40'N; 79°40'W; 25°00'N; 80°05'W; 24°25'N; 81°15'W; 24°20'N; 81°45'W; 24°30'N; 82°06'W; 24°41'N; 82°06'W; 24°43'N; 82°00'W; 25°00'N; 81°30'W; 25°10'N; 81°23'W; 25°35'N; 81°30'W; 26°15'N 82°20'W; 27°50'N; 83°05'W; 28°55'N; 83°30'W; 29°42'N; 84°00'W; 29°20'N; 85°00'W; 30°00'N; 87°10'W; 30°00'N; 88°30'W; 28°45'N; 88°55'W; 28°45'N; 90°00'W; 29°25'N; 94°00'W; 28°20'N; 96°00'W; 27°30'N; 97°00'W; 26°00'N; 97°00'W; 25°58'N; 97°07'W; westward along the U.S./Mexico border to 32°32'03"N, 117°07'25"W; 32°30'N; 117°25'W; 32°35'N; 118°30'W; 33°05'N; 119°45'W; 33°55'N; 120°40'W; 34°50'N; 121°10'W; 38°50'N; 124°00'W; 40°00'N; 124°35'W; 40°25'N; 124°40'W; 42°50'N; 124°50'W; 46°15'N; 124°30'W; 48°30'N; 125°00'W; 48°20'N; 128°00'W; 48°20'N; 132°00'W; 37°42'N; 130°40'W; 29°00'N; 124°00'W; 30°45'N; 120°50'W; 32°00'N; 118°24'W; 32°30'N; 117°20'W; 32°32'03"N; 117°07'25"W; eastward along the U.S./Mexico border to 25°58'N, 97°07'W; 26°00'N; 97°00'W; 26°00'N; 95°00'W; 26°30'N; 95°00'W; then via 26°30'N; parallel to 26°30'N; 84°00'W; 24°00'N; 83°00'W; then Via 24°00'N; parallel to 24°00'N; 79°25'W; 25°40'N; 79°25'W; 27°30'N; 78°50'W; 30°45'N; 74°00'W; 39°30'N; 63°45'W; 43°00'N; 65°48'W; to point of beginning.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is responsible for the intercept of aircraft inside the ADIZ. However, as it is the FAA and Transport
NORAD areas of responsibility are divided into three regions –
In February 1993, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff recommended that (1) the continental air defense mission be performed by dual tasking existing active and reserve general-purpose fighter and training squadrons in the Air Force, the Navy, and the Marine Corps and (2) the number of Air National Guard units dedicated to this mission be sharply reduced or eliminated.In a 3 May 1994 Report to Congressional Committees entitled Continental Air Defense – A Dedicated Force Is No Longer Needed it was announced that NORAD would reduce the continental US force to 28 aircraft located in 14 alert stations, on 5 minute response time, 24 hours a day:
NORAD plans to reduce the number of alert sites in the continental United States to 14 and provide 28 aircraft for the day-to-day peacetime air sovereignty mission. Each alert site will have two fighters, and their crews will be on 24-hour duty and ready to scramble within 5 minutes.By 2001 this had dropped to 14 aircraft at 7 alert bases located on the perimeter of the continental
The hijackings on September 11 occurred within the North East Air Defense Sector – NEADS. The NEADS mission normally had four interceptor aircraft on duty at any given time – 2 at Otis Air National Guard Base (ANGB) in
At the time of the attacks, only seven locations—around the perimeter of the United States—were engaged in the air defense mission. Each was assigned a pair of Air National Guard fighter aircraft ready to scramble if US airspace were threatened. These alert locations had F-15 or F-16 fighters on the runways, fueled, and ready to take off in fewer than 15 minutes.(from Air Force Magazine article: The Return Of NORAD, February, 2002)
None of the aircraft hijacked on September 11 entered the ADIZ. Prior to September 11, there was no formal system in place for military intercepts of civilian aircraft outside the ADIZ. In the 10 years prior to September 2001 there was only one instance in which military aircraft were involved in an intercept of a civilian aircraft outside the ADIZ.This was the intercept of Payne Stewart’s Learjet 35, registration N47BA, which lost cabin pressure and flew across several states before crashing on October 25, 1999. According to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report on the incident, communication with the aircraft was lost at 0933 EDT. The Jacksonville Air Radar Traffic Control Centre (ARTCC) directly requested an intercept from the USAF. A test pilot from the 40th Flight Test Squadron at Eglin Air Force Base,
In comparison, the duration from first sign of distress to flight termination for the four aircraft hijacked on September 11 were:
The intercept of Stewart’s Learjet took twice as long as the longest flight duration on 9/11 – American Airlines Flight 77.]Unlike Stewart’s Learjet, all four aircraft hijacked on September 11 had their transponders turned off. The transponder broadcasts vital information including the flight identification. Only transponder contacts appear on the secondary radar screen.
Without transponder information, aircraft had to be located on the primary radar screen which shows a radar signal from every single aircraft in the air – none of them labeled. In order to identify the hijacked aircraft, Air Traffic Controllers had to first cross-reference all of the aircraft appearing on the secondary radar screen with their correlating reading on the primary screen. AA 77, for example, was only located on the primary radar screen five minutes before it crashed into The Pentagon.From this information we can conclude the following facts:
- NORAD's area of responsibility is inside the ADIZ
- The Hijackings occured outside the ADIZ
- There was no standard proceedure for hijackings outside the ADIZ on 9/11
- From 1991 to 2001 only one military intercept occured over CONUS airspace. It took 81 minutes and the aircraft transponder remained on at all times.
- Incident-specific conditions on 9/11 did not favor a successful intercept, based on previous experience.
As you will see from the NORAD timeline (which I will post later), the times from NEADS notification to aircraft destruction are as follows:
|FLIGHT||FIRST SIGNS |
|CRASH||DURATION OF |
So from the outset a successful intercept by NORAD on 9/11 was to be difficult. Indeed, an intercept of UA175 or UA93 would be quite simply chronologically impossible. The longest window NEADS would get was 9 minutes. How did the wargames factor into this?