The FBI has announced recently that, in response to the numerous eyewitness reports of a missile hitting Flight 800, the launch point for a terrorist missile would have to be within a 5 mile circle just slightly ahead of the 747s path.
Left unsaid is the basis for assuming it was a terrorist missile.
After all, no wreckage of said missile has ever been acknowledged to have been recovered, so its not like the FBI or NTSB have a factual basis for determining just what kind of missile was involved.
The FBI claims that a terrorist on a boat, just ahead of the Boeing 747, just might possibly have hit it.
But would a terrorist really have launched there?
The fact is that, had it not been for the chance overflight of a US Air passenger jet descending into Rhode Island, flight 800 would have been far higher, out of range of all known man-portable missiles.
What kind of terrorists go to the trouble and expense of acquiring a man-portable missile and then positions themselves at a launch point where all the potential targets are hopelessly out of range. Wouldn't it make far more sense to sail the boat further west, paralleling the coast of Long Island, to where the departure path from the airport bring the targets down within easy range? Of course it would. You would be no closer to shore, but the target would be down lower.
And yet the FBI is trying to paint a picture of terrorists smart enough to bring a missile into the United States and too stupid to locate the optimum launch site!
Why does everyone think it just HAD to be terrorists?
Well, because the U.S. Navy (an institution with a prior record of killing passenger jets) says that even though they had missile-capable ship and planes in the area engaged in an exercise, and even though the Navy had activated aviation warning zones consistent with the firing of missiles, that honest-to-goodness, hand on a stack-O-bibles the missile didn't come from them.
Little history lesson here.
"Remember the Maine". While sitting in Havana harbor, a coal dust explosion destroyed the Battleship Maine. The Navy claimed, honest-to-goodness, hand on a stack-O-bibles, that the ship had been attacked and sunk by Spanish forces and we went to war with Spain.
In 1944, improperly stored munitions caused an explosion at Port Chicago in California. When the mostly black crewmen refused to go back to work in unsafe conditions, the Navy, instead of correcting the safety problems, claimed, honest-to-goodness, hand on a stack-O-bibles, that the men were insubordinate and threw them in prison until the end of the war.
Some years back, the number two turret of the Battleship Iowa exploded, killing 47 sailors. Despite clear evidence that the outdated and unstable gun propellent had been improperly stored, and despite clear evidence that the gun crew over rammed the gun charge, and despite PROOF that over-ramming would detonate the unstable propellent, the Navy claimed that honest-to-goodness, hand on a stack-O-bibles, the gun turret explosion was actually a suicide by an unhappy gay sailor!
In October of 1996, the U.S. Navy, in an interview with the French Associated Press, insisted, honest-to-goodness, hand on a stack-O-bibles, that there were no submarines near flight 800.
In November of 1996, the U.S. Navy, at a Pentagon Press Conference, insisted, honest-to-goodness, hand on a stack-O-bibles, that the closest warship to the crash of flight 800 was the U.S.S. Normandy, 185 miles away.
Four months later the Navy finally admitted that there were three nuclear submarines right off of the coast of Long Island at the time.
At that November press conference, the claim was made that the Navy aircraft in the area, an Orion P-3, honest-to-goodness, hand on a stack-O-bibles, could not fire missiles. Since then, official US Government photos have surfaced showing that the P-3 can and does fire missiles.
With these examples of the Navy's pride fresh in our collective memories, let's take a look at what we DO know about the event that brought down flight 800.
Man-portable missiles guide on Infra-red. That means that they home in on the heat from an engine. None of the four engines of the downed 747 show signs of missile impact. The 747 is designed to survive the catastrophic loss of an entire engine.
According to the NTSB's own sequencing report, a non-explosive (leaving no explosive residue) event tore out a section of the cabin of flight 800 near rows 17-19. The resultant sudden decompression of the cabin blew seats, cabin debris, and bodies (lacking any burn marks) out into the sky.
That's the key point. There was no explosive residue at the impact point. No burning, and no trace of the chemicals one would find from a non-detonated warhead shattering against the side of the 747. The test used by the FBI was so sensitive, it registered a false-positive on the remnants of a bomb detection exercise conducted on the plane a few months before the crash. This same test found nothing at rows 17-19. This means that the missile had no actual warhead.
What kind of missile has no warhead? Terrorists missiles go BOOM! But missiles used in training or tests have dummy warheads, either inert packages or added instruments of the same size and weight as real explosives. In many cases, missile undergoing tests have radar blip enhancers (non ATC data encoded transponders) to make them easier to track.
We have two scenarios to choose from.
In one, terrorists smuggle a missile into the US, sail out to sea to where there are no targets within range and just sit there until random chance brings one down to only 3000 feet higher than a Stinger will reach and fire off a one in a million shot to hit the jumbo jet, but golly gee the missile, instead of aiming at the hot engine like the owners manual says it will hits the cool passenger section of the plane and only then do we find out that Achmed's Missiles-R-Us didn't include any BANG in this model.
The Navy, having activated the warning zones, is running a live fire exercise between the P-3 and the three submarines, and a target drone. A missile, launched from one of the submerged submarines, emerges from the water and sees not one, but two inviting targets, and locks onto the larger one; the 747.
No terrorists would have launched from where the 747 exploded. A deliberate attack would have occurred further to the west and used an exploding warhead.
One of the Sherlock Holmes mysteries, "Silver Blaze", involves a crime committed by the owner of the house. The vital clue is that during the crime, the watchdog not bark. Had the criminal been anyone BUT the owner, the dog would have barked.
Let's say that a boat (or the much hypothesized surplus Russian Diesel/Electric submarine) with a launch rail and radar acquisition gear has sailed along the coast of Long Island and flipped a shot off at the 747.
A lot of people, including several pilots, saw it. Had the source of the missile been a strange vessel, one would expect there to have been a flurry of activity to chase down the source of the missile. There was a P-3 already overhead dropping sonobouys, plus two Los Angeles class fast attack subs. Also in the area was a Coast Guard cutter and aviation units of the Air National Guard, on routine patrol looking out for threats to our shores. They would have immediately tried to chase down the boat with the launcher. Other naval forces in the area would have moved in, called into the fray by those on the scene.
154 people on the beach saw the missile, and they were not even on lookout duty. The missile was also seen and identified as a missile by civilian pilots, including Chris Baur of the US Customs Service. It is inconceivable that a missile could be fired right next to an ongoing naval exercise and escape detection by the world's best equipped high-tech Navy. Missiles, even man-portable ones, are a threat to Navy aircraft such as the P-3.
Navy aircraft are equipped with a sensor system to counter the threat of man-portable missiles. I got to examine one close up when I toured a US Navy landing ship and was allowed to sit inside a Harrier. Every aircraft on the landing ship had this system installed.
Mounted on the airframe are four sensors, quartering the airspace around the aircraft The sensor is a wide angle lens, slightly reminiscent of the eye of HAL 9000. The output of the system is tied into the cockpit MFD, and the system is on when the avionics package is on. The sensor is designed to react to the IR spectral signature of a burning missile plume, even if the missile is aimed right at the aircraft.
The point is that even if the P-3 crew wasn't watching for the missile, the anti-missile sensors on every Naval aircraft and the corresponding detectors on the naval ships in the area would have detected the missile.
The Navy, defender of our coasts and protector of our shores, when detecting a missile launch that brings down a 747, should assume that an attack by an enemy is underway. That's what the Navy is trained to do. That's what We The People pay them to do. There is no reason for them to do otherwise.
Following launch detection, the Navy was unusually positioned to search for and prosecute any boat or submarine from which the missile was launched, with a sonobouy equipped P-3, plus two Los Angeles class fast-attack submarines, plus a "boomer", all with the very best in sensors and in the immediate vicinity, backed up by other naval assets in the area, including the USS Normandy. It would have been expected to see all available Naval and Aviation assets surge into the Atlantic to establish an interdiction zone and block the possible escape of any launch boat.
But there was no fray. The Naval forces flew and sailed to the scene of the crash (followed by deep salvage vessels), but the flotilla of ships and planes one would expect to sail out into the Atlantic to search for the launch boat (or sub) never occurred.
More importantly, with a dead 747 falling out of the sky from a missile from an unknown source, no military commander would dare take the chance that this was not part of a larger attack. In addition to aviation units scrambling from the coastline to search for the source of the missile, there would have been an immediate alert put out to all forces in the area to be on the lookout for other missile attacks. No military commander would bet his brass that there was only one missile out there.
At the very least, the passenger air traffic should have been diverted from the area to keep them safe from a second missile. But while the wreckage burned on the surface of the ocean, passenger jets continued to cruise the airspace above.
Yet none of this happened. The Navy did not search for the source of the missile. Therefore the source of the missile was known. There were no alerts. Therefore, it was already known there was no additional danger. The civilian passenger jets were not diverted. Therefore, it was already known they were safe.
The "dog did not bark".
Ergo, the source of the missile was already known at the time.
Back To The Top.
Back To The Crash Page.
Back To The TWA Page.