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9/11: Scrambled F15's from Otis Air Force Base:

Mach 1.5 or Cruise Speed?

by Karen de Vries

 4 October 2004
www.globalresearch.ca     5 October 2004

The URL of this article is: http://globalresearch.ca/articles/410A.html


Memory Fresh Up


On September 13th, during his confirmation hearing General Myers[1] , acting chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on September 11th, stated that no military aircraft was scrambled until after the Pentagon strike.


According to a news release from NORAD on September 18th, 2001 , the FAA notified them about the hijacking of the first airliner (flight 111) at 8.40 AM . Subsequently they ordered to scramble two F15ís from Otis Air Force Base at 8.46 AM , which were airborne at 8.52 AM . [2] This contradicted the earlier statement of the chairmen of the JCS.


Major Gen. Larry Arnold from NORAD stated on different occasions that ďwhen the fighters took off, they were flying straight to New York City Ē and that they were going at a speed of "about 1.5 MachĒ. He also stated that at the time of impact the F-15ís were 71 miles away, about 8 minutes out, and going very fast [3] .


Mach 1.0 is the speed of sound. The speed of sound is not a constant, but depends on the temperature and air pressure at the different altitudes. A plane flying Mach 1.0 at sea level is flying about 761,6 Mph, a plane flying Mach 1.0 at 30000 ft is flying 678,5 Mph, etc. [4] At an altitude of 40.000 feet, mach 1.5 still be about 989.55 Mph. At 30.000 feet it would be 1017,75 Mph, at 20.000 feet 1060,95 Mph and at 10.000 1102,35 Mph.  

The F-15A


There are two types of F15ís aircrafts at Otis Air Force Base. The F15A, with a crew of one and the F15B with a crew of two. Since the F15Bís primary purpose is aircrew training, I think we can safely assume they scrambled the F15A [5] . The F-15A has a Cruise Speed of 466,79 Mph and a maximum speed of 1649,75 Mph at an altitude of 36007.2 Feet [6] . Itís (ferry) range is 1500 miles with three external fuel tanks. The F-15 is capable of aerial refueling [7] .


Some Calculations


The distance between Otis Air Force Base and the WTC is 153 mile. The two F15ís were airborne at 8.52.00 AM, The impact of Flight 175 at the second WTC tower was 9.02.54 AM.


This means they had about 10.54 minutes to intercept Flight 175.


They could have arrived in the area above the WTC within 10 minutes if their average speed had been (15.3 mile per minute x 60 =) 918 miles per hour. However, at the time of impact they were still 71 miles away from the WTC.


This means they had flown (153Ė 71 miles =) 82 miles in 10.54 minutes. This means their average speed has been 82/10.54 = 7.78 miles per minute (x 60 =) 466,79 Mph.  It seems to be a remarkable coincidence that the average speed these F15ís must have flown, calculated on basis of the information NORAD gave, is exactly their official cruise speed.


Arnold also stated that they were about 8 minutes away. 71 miles/8 = 8,875 Mp minute x 60 = 532,5 per hour. That speed is nowhere near mach 1.5 (about 1000 -11000 Mph).


Different Factors


The capability to accelerate to supersonic speed from the F-15A depends on different factors, such as the weight of the aircraft at take off (MTW) and the amount of fuel on board. One would hope that, given one of their primary tasks: the interception of suspicious aircrafts ASAP, the F-15ís are always standby in optimal condition: being able to take off within minutes, being able to accelerate to mach 1.5 or faster ASAP and having enough fuel aboard to maintain that speed for a longer period of time.


I have been told by an expert that ďa normally equippedĒ F15 needs about seven minutes to climb to an altitude where it could get to mach speed. According to the table I referred to earlier, theoretically jet planes can accelerate to mach speed even at sea level. But for now letís assume there may have been some unknown factors which made that impossible.


If they would have accelerated to mach 1.5 after about seven minutes, the F-15ís would have flown at mach 1.5 for about 3 minutes at the time of impact. In those three minutes they would have covered a distance of (about 1000 Mph/60 = 16,66 per minute, x3 =) 49,98 miles.


In 7 minutes at cruise speed they cover 54,46 miles + 49,98 miles (at mach 1.5) = 104,44 miles. 

153 miles (distance between OAFB & the WTC) Ė 104,44 covered miles = 48,56 miles. They would have been 48,56 miles away the moment of impact in the second WTC tower. The average speed would have been: 104,44 miles/10 (fly minutes) x 60 = 626,64 Mph. 159,85 Mph faster than the official cruise speed of the F15A.


Sad enough, that wouldnít have made any difference. But it tells us that we can be short on the mach-tale, it didnít happen.


It would have made a difference though, if the FAA had notified NORAD right away at 8.25 AM or, if they did, NORAD wouldnít have waited with ordering the F-15ís to scramble for over 20 minutes.


It would also have made a difference if they would have accelerated to mach 1.5 not seven but four minutes after take off.


Remaining questions


There may have been technical reasons, such as altitude, fuel, weight and other air traffic, which made it impossible for them to accelerate to full speed (on time). But somebody from NORAD should have been able to explain that. I assume that when you work in the air-defense business, you know your time/distance tables and all the variables. I assume that is part of your job. I assume those people know exactly how long it takes to fly from A to B with a certain type of aircraft under different kind of circumstances. I also assume that if they fail to intercept an airplane, they can find the cause and explain it to the public. But since they  havenít weíre still stuck with these questions:


  1. Why did General Myers initially stated that no military aircraft was scrambled until after the Pentagon was hit?
  2. Why did Major Gen Arnold contradict that statement a few days later?
  3. Why did Major Gen Arnold  state that the F-15's flew at mach 1.5, when it is obvious they didnít?
  4. Why didnít the F-15ís accelerate to mach 1.5 or higher?
  5. If there are any plausible reasons why they didnít accelerate to mach 1.5 or higher, why didnít NORAD to this very day bother to explain them?


By not giving any answer to these (and many other) questions, NORAD and the Pentagon show an unacceptable contempt for the families of the victims.


It might be so that Defense Departments arenít to keen on giving exact data on their response times, because this would provide the enemy with useful information. But itís been three years and according to the department of Defense, the situation since then has improved considerably. Therefore there are no more reasons to hush up. Itís time to speak up. In fact itís long overdue.



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