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View Full Version : Interesting news article about Air Force Fighter plane standby readiness.



Achilles97
06-16-2004, 11:40 AM
IGNORE the way the article relates the Air Force facts to 9/11. Just pay attention to the time to scramble fighter planes, etc.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5215957/?GT1=3584

I'm very surprised that before 9/11 the United States only maintained 20 fighter planes in stand-off status, at 10 locations.

Does anyone have any information on how long it takes to arm and fuel a fighter at a typical air force base?

I'm just really surprised at how relaxed the air force's normal state was. I thought that at least a pair of fighters would be on standby at every fighter base, and that at any given moment a plane could be fueled, armed, and airborne within 20 minutes.

The 15 minutes to launch an aircraft on standby seems too long also. I thought that 5 minutes would be what it took to scramble stand-by fighters.

Surprising.

[This message was edited by Achilles97 on Wed June 16 2004 at 12:11 PM.]

[This message was edited by Achilles97 on Wed June 16 2004 at 12:15 PM.]

Achilles97
06-16-2004, 11:40 AM
IGNORE the way the article relates the Air Force facts to 9/11. Just pay attention to the time to scramble fighter planes, etc.

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/5215957/?GT1=3584

I'm very surprised that before 9/11 the United States only maintained 20 fighter planes in stand-off status, at 10 locations.

Does anyone have any information on how long it takes to arm and fuel a fighter at a typical air force base?

I'm just really surprised at how relaxed the air force's normal state was. I thought that at least a pair of fighters would be on standby at every fighter base, and that at any given moment a plane could be fueled, armed, and airborne within 20 minutes.

The 15 minutes to launch an aircraft on standby seems too long also. I thought that 5 minutes would be what it took to scramble stand-by fighters.

Surprising.

[This message was edited by Achilles97 on Wed June 16 2004 at 12:11 PM.]

[This message was edited by Achilles97 on Wed June 16 2004 at 12:15 PM.]

T_O_A_D
06-16-2004, 12:23 PM
Well it is suprizing. But just think of the repricusions if they would of. There would of never been proof that they were who they were, their true intentions,and our military would of been held responsible for the death of our own and whomever else on them. What a mess, as if what happened wasn't mess enough????

But it didn't happen that way, so ohwell. Just to bad it happened at all.

Now I recomend Mods lock this before it get out of hand here, too. This ones a hot potato for here.
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Achilles97
06-16-2004, 01:09 PM
Perhaps I should not have related the topic to 9/11. I just changed it.

What about the issues I discussed, such as the number of standby fighters, the time it takes to launch a plane, etc.

I pretty much ignored the way the AirForce-standby-fighters facts were related to 9/11. But, I did pay attention to the facts that I listed in my original post, which were purely Air Force.

horseback
06-16-2004, 01:37 PM
Let me see if I have this right. Before 9/11/2001, and after the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was a reason to maintain a couple of fighters on every domestic base for immediate takeoff with a full load of fuel and ammo that would justify the expense in time and materials? Could anyone identify the potential bombing threat that would have passed muster before 9/11 with the politically motivated "guardians" of our national defense tax dollars?

Does anyone have a clue as to how many military units there are in the United States with fighter type aircraft stationed there? During the last administration, it was my impression that money for training and proficiency flights was pretty tight, and that stocks of ammunition expended during the Kosovo campaign had not been fully replaced by the time the current administration took the reigns. If it was anything like the post-Carter transition, which I went through, it was some time before increased funding and an effective reorganization actually started getting some traction.

Throw in the time it took to realize that something was actually going on (how long does it take to fly from Boston to the World Trade Center, anyway?) and I can't see how it would have been possible to 1)locate and identify the hijacked flights; 2) find a safe place to shoot them down (most of the Eastern Seaboard is pretty densely populated-a plane crashing is very likely to hit someone's neighborhood).

Given the short reaction time required, the unlikelihood of the situation (remember, we have to take a pre-9/11 political situation and mindset to the preparation for potential emergencies), I don't see how anyone could reasonably expect an interception and shootdown to have taken place and be preferable to what actually happened.

Think it through, make sure that you KNOW what is possible and what isn't, as opposed to what you think should be possible according to what you see on TV shows. Doing so will require you to have some knowledge of air traffic control technology (do you know the difference between radar and IFF, and how the FAA uses them to track domestic flights?), the availability of high performance fighters with decent radar systems (does the F-16 qualify in this regard?- it wasn't equipped for active radar homing missiles, which I believe is still the mainstay of our long range air to air missile stocks), and the time to scramble, identify & intercept an aircraft that has shut off its transponders and has gone off its flight plan course.

Then ask yourself about the motives of people who raise questions without attempting to provide the background information that would truly inform you about the situation as it existed.

cheers

horseback

"Here's your new Mustangs, boys. You can learn to fly'em on the way to the target. Cheers!" -LTCOL Don Blakeslee, 4th FG CO, February 27th, 1944

Buckaroo12
06-16-2004, 01:41 PM
15 minutes to launch sounds about right. The fighter on alert would be fueled, armed and waiting INSIDE a hanger or shelter most likely, The pilot would be somewhere on the base waiting for the screamble order but not necessarily sitting in the cockpit. So yeah, 15 minutes sounds reasonable for the pilot to get to his aircraft, spool up the engines, taxi out to the runway and launch. I would think that the 5 minute readiness would entail the fighter waiting by the hold-short line, already buckled into his airplane and ready to go. If I remember correctly a carrier aircraft on Alert 5 is already locked into the Catapault!

Achilles97
06-16-2004, 01:45 PM
horseback, were you directing your comments toward me?

Again, let me stress, ->read my post<-. I didn't ask or imply anything regarding the fact that no hijacked airliners were shot down.

I was merely stating that I was surprised that only 20 fighter planes were on standby before 9/11, and I was surprised that it took so long to scramble a fighter - which lead to the questions of my post. My surprised comments were in no way intended to be CRITICAL of the Air Force; my comments were an attempt to gain more information on that subject (fighter standby statistics).

Maybe T_O_A_D_S suggestion to have this thread locked was a good idea -> People do not know how to read a post.

[This message was edited by Achilles97 on Wed June 16 2004 at 12:59 PM.]

Achilles97
06-16-2004, 01:46 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Buckaroo12:
15 minutes to launch sounds about right. The fighter on alert would be fueled, armed and waiting INSIDE a hanger or shelter most likely, The pilot would be somewhere on the base waiting for the screamble order but not necessarily sitting in the cockpit. So yeah, 15 minutes sounds reasonable for the pilot to get to his aircraft, spool up the engines, taxi out to the runway and launch. I would think that the 5 minute readiness would entail the fighter waiting by the hold-short line, already buckled into his airplane and ready to go. If I remember correctly a carrier aircraft on Alert 5 is already locked into the Catapault!<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Thank you for an informative answer relating to the purpose of this thread.

Achilles97
06-16-2004, 01:58 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by horseback:
Let me see if I have this right. Before 9/11/2001, and after the collapse of the Soviet Union, there was a _reason_ to maintain a couple of fighters on every domestic base for immediate takeoff with a full load of fuel and ammo that would justify the expense in time and materials? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
Are missiles not reusable if they are mounted on a fighter but not fired?

<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>
Think it through, make sure that you KNOW what is possible and what isn't, as opposed to what you think should be possible according to what you see on TV shows. Doing so will require you to have some knowledge of air traffic control technology (do you know the difference between radar and IFF, and how the FAA uses them to track domestic flights?), the availability of high performance fighters with decent radar systems (does the F-16 qualify in this regard?- it wasn't equipped for active radar homing missiles, which I believe is still the mainstay of our long range air to air missile stocks), and the time to scramble, identify & intercept an aircraft that has shut off its transponders and has gone off its flight plan course.

Then ask yourself about the motives of people who raise questions without attempting to provide the background information that would truly inform you about the situation as it existed.
<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>
Is this directed towards me, or the article?

If it was directed towards the article:
I don't care. Like I said, I'm not concerned about the article's stance on the 9/11 events.

If this was directed towards me:

Why would someone raise a question who does not know the background information? Perhaps to find out some information. Perhaps you should have attempted to provide me with some information by answering my questions, as opposed to attacking my motives for asking them.

horseback
06-16-2004, 03:05 PM
Achilles -

My last comment was directed towards the news media in general who have poorly served the public in this regard. It is their self described duty to provide all the pertinant information, and be candid about their own points of view, instead of maintaining the pretense that they are neutral. Everyone has a point of view; concealing your point of view causes me to wonder if you're trustworthy. (not you specifically, but I think you follow my reasoning)

Now, as to your comments, missiles must be tested and mounted before each flight, and dismounted and (I believe) retested after each flight. There is a significant cost involved with just getting a couple of jets ready for immediate flight. Preflighting a modern jet fighter is still not a matter of taxiing it out of the hanger.

Avionics systems have to be turned on, tested and properly aligned, for instance. It is my understanding that there are several maintenance man-hours for every hour of operational flight, and in peacetime, safety considerations are paramount.

Given the political climate that existed before 9/11, the Opposition party could be expected to make a big fuss over the costs involved with the kind of readiness you apparently expected. Fighters are used to defend against bombers, and who was going to try to drop bombs on the United States in the traditional way? Mexico? Unless the Administration had clear evidence of a clear threat, the cost would be a political hot potato.

I don't know how the FAA uses radar and IFF, but I DO know that most of the information provided on the radar display is provided by IFF, via a transponder unit on the aircraft. You turn off that transponder, all the radar gives you is a distance and bearing (there are 3-D systems, but they're expensive & the IFF gives you all that data anyway), and some civilian systems I've seen don't show raw radar data, appearing to rely on the legal requirement for the transponder to be used.

I don't have all the facts on hand, but I have had a lifelong association with the US military and Defense, and I see a huge disparity between what the public believes is done or CAN be done by the military and what is actually done or would be done. Generally speaking, the public (thanks to Hollywood) is way too optimistic, bordering on living in Fantasyland.

I hope that you are mollified by this explanation, and that you understand that my post(s) are directed to the entire forum population. We rarely consider even the facts that we are aware of unless we are forced to. Your post raised questions that have already been heavily emotionalized, which I find creates more heat than light. I was trying to get some people to turn on their own lights and try to see the whole situation.

cheers

horseback

"Here's your new Mustangs, boys. You can learn to fly'em on the way to the target. Cheers!" -LTCOL Don Blakeslee, 4th FG CO, February 27th, 1944

Chuck_Older
06-16-2004, 03:14 PM
With all the surveillance hardware orbitting the planet, sailing the seas, flying the airways, and attached to radar screens, the need for immediate response fighter aircraft was not a need that was felt in the US.

Like horseback said, it costs money, and there would have been a scream of bloody murder in the US gov't if these on-alert aircraft were "uselessly" gulping down US tax dollars to combat a threat that wasn't realised.

Hindsight is 20/20

*****************************
The hillsides ring with, "Free the People",
Or can I hear the echoes from the days of '39?
~ Clash

BfHeFwMe
06-16-2004, 03:26 PM
What a laugh, an official investigation? By the same officials who were fighting to end the alert program altogether around that time. The old ADC units were cut to the bone and last remnants were in the process of having their alerts phased out along with a mission change. But yeah, lets blame it all on the military.


Asshat politicians. Had the attack occured one year later, it's likely there would have been no alert planes anywhere. http://ubbxforums.ubi.com/images/smiley/crazy.gif

Achilles97
06-16-2004, 08:44 PM
<BLOCKQUOTE class="ip-ubbcode-quote"><font size="-1">quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by horseback:
Achilles -

My last comment was directed towards the news media in general who have poorly served the public in this regard. It is their self described duty to provide all the pertinant information, and be candid about their own points of view, instead of maintaining the pretense that they are neutral. Everyone has a point of view; concealing your point of view causes me to wonder if you're trustworthy. (not you specifically, but I think you follow my reasoning)

Now, as to your comments, missiles must be tested and mounted before each flight, and dismounted and (I believe) retested after each flight. There is a significant cost involved with just getting a couple of jets ready for immediate flight. Preflighting a modern jet fighter is still not a matter of taxiing it out of the hanger.

Avionics systems have to be turned on, tested and properly aligned, for instance. It is my understanding that there are several maintenance man-hours for every hour of operational flight, and in peacetime, safety considerations are paramount.

Given the political climate that existed before 9/11, the Opposition party could be expected to make a big fuss over the costs involved with the kind of readiness you apparently expected. Fighters are used to defend against bombers, and who was going to try to drop bombs on the United States in the traditional way? Mexico? Unless the Administration had clear evidence of a clear threat, the cost would be a political hot potato.

I don't know how the FAA uses radar and IFF, but I DO know that most of the information provided on the radar display is provided by IFF, via a transponder unit on the aircraft. You turn off that transponder, all the radar gives you is a distance and bearing (there are 3-D systems, but they're expensive & the IFF gives you all that data anyway), and some civilian systems I've seen don't show raw radar data, appearing to rely on the legal requirement for the transponder to be used.

I don't have all the facts on hand, but I have had a lifelong association with the US military and Defense, and I see a huge disparity between what the public believes is done or CAN be done by the military and what is actually done or would be done. Generally speaking, the public (thanks to Hollywood) is way too optimistic, bordering on living in Fantasyland.

I hope that you are mollified by this explanation, and that you understand that my post(s) are directed to the entire forum population. We rarely consider even the facts that we are aware of unless we are forced to. Your post raised questions that have already been heavily emotionalized, which I find creates more heat than light. I was trying to get some people to turn on their own lights and try to see the whole situation.

cheers

horseback

"Here's your new Mustangs, boys. You can learn to fly'em on the way to the target. Cheers!" -LTCOL Don Blakeslee, 4th FG CO, February 27th, 1944<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

Thank you for your explanation. I agree with your thoughts.