By NORAD and USNORTHCOM Publiic Affairs
PETERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. – Two F-15 fighters under the direction of North American Aerospace Defense Command out of 159th Fighter Wing in New Orleans, La, intercepted and monitored an unresponsive general aviation aircraft over the Gulf of Mexico at approximately 9:30 a.m. EDT.
The Cessna 421 departed Slidell, La., en route to Sarasota, Fla. and began flying erratically over the Gulf of Mexico. Upon intercepting the aircraft, the F-15 pilots reported the pilot was unresponsive. The NORAD fighters remained on station and monitored the aircraft until it crashed in the Gulf of Mexico at approximately 12:15 p.m. EDT. The fighters stayed on station to assist partner agencies in further efforts before returning to base.
The intent of military intercepts is to have the identified aircraft re-establish communications with local FAA air traffic controllers and instruct the pilot to follow air traffic controllers’ instructions to land safely for follow-on action.
NORAD's mission – in close collaboration with homeland defense, security, and law enforcement partners – is to prevent air attacks against North America, safeguard the sovereign airspaces of the United States and Canada by responding to unknown, unwanted and unauthorized air activity approaching and operating within these airspaces, and provide aerospace and maritime warning for North America. NORAD may be required to monitor, shadow, divert from flight path, direct to land and/or destroy platforms deemed a potential threat to North America.
NORAD is the bi-national Canadian and American command that is responsible for the air defense of North America and maritime warning. The command has three subordinate regional headquarters: the Alaskan NORAD Region at Elmendorf Air Force Base, Alaska; the Canadian NORAD Region at Winnipeg, Manitoba; and the Continental NORAD Region at Tyndall Air Force Base, Fla. The command is poised both tactically and strategically in our nation’s capital to provide a multilayered defense to detect, deter and prevent potential threats flying over the airspace of the United States and Canada.