US Air Force F-16s intercepted an unauthorised aircraft flying in a restricted area over a Trump rally

US Air ForceUS Air Force F-16.
  • 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.”
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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.

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.^tfw

“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?”

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