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June 5, 1999: NORAD Exercise Is Based on Terrorists Planning to Crash a Plane into the White House

The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) practices a scenario in which terrorists plan to crash a stolen aircraft into the White House in Washington, DC. The scenario is included in a command post exercise called Falcon Indian that is conducted by the Continental United States NORAD Region (CONR). [North American Aerospace Defense Command, 8/25/1989; US Air Force, 2003 pdf file; Arkin, 2005, pp. 362] It is identical to a scenario that was included in a previous Falcon Indian exercise, held in January this year (see January 9, 1999), and is intended to practice identification, intercept, and terrorist procedures.
Plane Was Stolen in Bermuda - It begins with FBI headquarters contacting the commander in chief of NORAD and telling him that two members of a terrorist group called AOL have stolen a Learjet 35—a small jet aircraft—from the airport in Bermuda. The aircraft is loaded with explosives, is heading toward the United States, and the terrorists plan to carry out a suicide attack against the White House. The stolen plane is being flown very close to and under a Canadair 600 business jet.
Fighters Intercept the Stolen Plane - The simulated NORAD commander in chief in the exercise has to contact the CONR battle commander and order that, after being correctly identified, the Learjet should be shot down. Fighter jets are able to intercept the Learjet and their pilots report that its tail number is indeed that of the stolen plane. However, the terrorists notice the fighters and, in response, accelerate to maximum speed and head at a low altitude toward the White House.
Fighters Can Shoot Down the Learjet if It Is over Water - The scenario is “dynamic” and so more than one outcome is possible. If the fighter pilots have the necessary clearance and are able to do so, they should shoot down the Learjet over water. However, if the Learjet is over a populated area, the stolen plane can, if necessary, crash into a residential area, resulting in 20 people being killed, 100 people injured, and many fires erupting. [US Air Force, 2003 pdf file] A scenario that is apparently identical to the one practiced in today’s exercise will be included in a Falcon Indian exercise held in June 2000 (see June 5, 2000). [US Congress. Senate. Committee on Armed Services, 8/17/2004]

Entity Tags: North American Aerospace Defense Command, Falcon Indian, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Continental US NORAD Region

Timeline Tags: Complete 911 Timeline, 9/11 Timeline

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