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August 25, 2004

Two Jets Down

Two airliners down, in the same area, on the same day. Hmmm

Could be coincidence, could be well-planned bomb attacks (God knows the enemy's capable of it...as we, the Burmese, the Spaniards, et al. can attest).

Personally, I would not be surprised if the Russians find al-Qaeda is ops-checking their Stinger/SA-18 stash. The Afghans had (have?) quite a collection of our product and the Stinger-ski (Russian SA-18) is probably about as common as the RPG-7s one sees sitting on the shoulder of every moron killing in the name of Allah, Marx, Mao or whatever diety du jure they claim allegiance to.

Think about it. You sit in the grass well out of visual range of anyone on the field but in the heart of the envelope for a modern MANPAD against a non-maneuvering target with (to a Stinger) the heat signature of Mt St Helens...and his ability to jink (rapid, violent, last-ditch maneuver to avoid getting shot) is exactly zero.

Point, squeeze to the first detent, get the firing cue (tone/vibration/whatever) and launch. If this happened at night, it's a more sophisticated shoulder-mounted SAM and the night launch would probably be missed. The smoke trail would be invisible, of course, and once the missile's away, I wouldn't even look back. I'd heave that launcher and hightail it for the getaway car.

People on board, if they see anything at all, might see a flash out of the corner of their eye. Probably the first indication to the crew would be a "thump" followed immediately by LOTS of lights on the instrument panel...fire handles coming on, hydraulic indicators fluctuating, etc., then the stick starts to feel funny, jet starts to roll, it's dark so it's hard to not get spatially disoriented...you get the picture?

I can see it now...routine helo patrols around every major airport in the country. Landing fees may skyrocket to pay for the security (but Uncle Sam'll probably pick up most of the tab to keep a critical service industry from going belly up)--an industry that has a profit margin of 1-2%.

Eh...probably just coincidence. But think of the psychological implications on the civilian population, in any country, after that.

I wonder how high our pain threshold will be before Joe Six Pack says, "Take the gloves off, W."

Instapilot

(N.B. - Jeff Quinton is doing one of his Live Update reports on this incident)