RealNews

U.S. Military Trains to Shoot Down Jets

At least twice a week, the military practices what two years ago would have been nearly unthinkable: shooting down a civilian airliner hijacked by terrorists. Gen. Ralph E. Eberhart, head of U.S. Northern Command, said Thursday that strong safeguards are in place to prevent an accidental or unwarranted shootdown of a commercial airplane. Commanders, pilots and air defense crews are drilled on those procedures at least twice and as many as four times each week, Eberhart said. The rules allow for an order to shoot down a civilian plane only if there is no other option to prevent a Sept. 11-style attack on the ground, the general said. There are authentication procedures for such orders to make sure “someone can’t just get on the radio and say, ‘This is the president, I order you to shoot down that plane,'” Eberhart said. He declined to elaborate on the new procedures, saying they were classified, and would not disclose who in the chain of command had the power to issue a shootdown order. Full Story

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