- US Air Force F-16s intercepted an unauthorised aircraft flying near a rally President Donald Trump held Wednesday afternoon in Arizona.
- The plane ignored initial intercept procedures, North American Aerospace Defence Command said in a statement, but it established radio contact when the F-16s deployed signal flares.
- When Trump saw the incident, he pointed at the sky and said, “Look at that. They gave the president a little display.”
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
US Air Force F-16 fighter jets tasked with defending US airspace intercepted an unauthorised aircraft that was flying in a restricted area near a Trump campaign rally in Bullhead City, Arizona, Wednesday afternoon, North American Aerospace Defence Command said.
“NORAD F-16 aircraft investigated a general aviation aircraft that was not in communication with [Air Traffic Control] and entered the Temporary Flight Restriction area surrounding Bullhead City, AZ without proper clearance,” the command said in a statement.
NORAD added that the aircraft did not initially respond to intercept procedures. It made radio contact, though, when the F-16s popped flares. The NORAD F-16s then escorted the plane out of the area.
The command did not say what the intercepted aircraft was doing in the restricted area.
(2/2) The violating aircraft was non-responsive to initial intercept procedures, but established radio communications after NORAD aircraft deployed signal flares. The aircraft was escorted out of the restricted area by the NORAD aircraft without further incident. #WeHaveTheWatch
— North American Aerospace Defense Command (@NORADCommand) October 28, 2020
A NORAD spokesman told Insider that the airspace the plane flew into was temporarily restricted because of President Donald Trump’s campaign rally.
Temporary flight-restriction areas are typically established by the Federal Aviation Administration and enforced in part by NORAD, which is responsible for defending domestic airspace. In a crisis, NORAD has the ability to rapidly scramble F-16 Fighting Falcons, F-15 Eagles, and F-22 Raptors.
Since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, domestic air defence has been strengthened, and the capabilities provided by NORAD are only one part of a layered defence.
Part of Wednesday’s incident was caught on video by C-SPAN, which was covering the rally. Trump paused his speech to call attention to the aerial activity.
“Oh, look at that. Look, look, look,” Trump said, pointing at the sky. “Look at that. They gave the president a little display.” The crowd then chanted, “USA, USA, USA.”
Trump, according to The Associated Press, told the crowd it was a fifth-generation F-35 Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter. He then asked rhetorically, “You know how hard it is to get Democrats to pay for that?”
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.