Question of the Evening: Could the NYPD Shoot Down an Airplane?

Appearing on 60 Minutes, the chief of the New York Police Department reckons his anti-terrorist unit city could shoot a plane out of the sky. Unless Commissioner Ray Kelly somehow got the feds to supply his boys with anti-aircraft missiles and a damn fine radar system, I reckon Ray’s blowin’ smoke. You? [h/t to all who sent the link]

comments

  1. avatar J in MS says:

    With what exactly?

  2. avatar adam says:

    Theoretically it is possible. A couple of well placed
    50 BMG rounds could take down any plane that was flying low enough to do a 9/11 style attack. Practically? Never (unless supplied with the aforementioned radar and SAM units)

    1. avatar BLAMMO says:

      It would be almost impossible to bring down an aircraft with a .50 BMG or any other kinetic weapon, unless you get really lucky and the plane is at very low altitude (<2000'). Even the old "wall o' lead" approach never worked very well.

  3. avatar Sid says:

    No. Not without much more significant weapons used more commonly by the US Air Force.

    A plane running contrary to regulations is not a lethal threat. Flying at altitude requires an aircraft (like an F-16 to intercept). A plane running at a building requires massive firepower to avert. Hitting an engine or the cockpit is not going to cause an abrupt course change. They don’t have an air force capability OR they have wasted massive amounts of funding to purchase one.

  4. avatar Brett solomon says:

    Given the amount of other tactical gear on the force, is it possible they have a STINGER system?

    1. avatar matt says:

      The dod all ready supplies le with rifles other surplus equipment, and we gave the taliban stinger missles, so I don’t see how nypd couldnt manage to get a couple of surplus manpads.

    2. avatar BLAMMO says:

      Secret roof-top SAM sites. 😀

  5. avatar Severe says:

    Seems to me the liability for a city/muni would beyond HUGE for this type of responsibility.

    A no-knock surface-to-air missile better be elventy-billion percent accurate and be able to completely disintegrate hostile aircraft. Even IF it’s a justified shooting the families and the flaming falling debris will result in enough law suites to ruin NY.

    Next thing you know, the PD will be asking for artillery support of on-call Tomahawks.

    1. avatar Just Another Matt says:

      “Next thing you know, the PD will be asking for artillery support of on-call Tomahawks.”

      You sure they haven’t?But then a Tomahawk has an awfully high hit ratio for NYPD.

  6. avatar Hunter S. says:

    A later update to the story showed a spokesman trying to clarify (read backpeddle) by saying they meant they could deploy helo with .50 BMG rifle. The spokesman stated this type of loadout could take out a small aircraft (cessna) or helo.

    The question remains… How could this help? A plane deliberately flies into a crowded building or flaming wreckage rains down on crowded city streets… Hmmm.

    1. avatar matt says:

      Wasnt there someone how flew a Cessna in to a building not too long after 911? If I remember correctly, it only took out 1 office with no innocents injured. It doesnt really seem like it would be much of a threat.

      1. avatar Ken says:

        Troubled yoot stole a plane and crashed it into a high-rise in Tampa.

  7. avatar Mike says:

    And where, do tell, will the one hundred tons of falling wreckage and flaming jet fuel land? Remember that this is the same organization that has enjoyed the famed distinction of 30+ round gunfights in less than 10 yards with zero hits…
    Now they have access to Anti Aircraft weapons?

  8. avatar Greg in Allston says:

    Kelly is talking out of his ass and propagating the myth. What do you expect from someone living off of the public dime?

  9. avatar Aharon says:

    NYC high-tech monitoring system is impressive. This 60 Minute special is revealing too much NYC SOP that terrorists could use to amend their tactics.

  10. avatar JOE MATAFOME says:

    They can’t even shoot a crook ten feet in front of them, and they want to shoot down a plane. These fools don’t have a clue.

    1. avatar John says:

      Given the ammount of ammunition expended at the average police shooting in NYC, I would say they could take down a low flying aircraft, just not the one they are shooting at.

  11. avatar The J says:

    Am I the only one who watched the whole video and am I the only one who thinks that this is bordering on a police state? It has become impossible to walk a block in NYC without being seen on camera? They can track you and stop you and question you becuse you just had radiation therapy for cancer or a contrast CT or a PET scan? Really? I understand the point of security but I think I will stay away from NYC for my own sake before I am tackled and tazed for scratching my man parts a little too suspiciously on a street corner.

    1. avatar John says:

      Its not just NYC, its the whole country.

      The terrorists have won; they set out to change America and they have succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. They have given the totalitarians among us the fodder to turn America in to the police state they have always wanted.

  12. avatar Tony Curtis says:

    @Matt-It was a kid in Florida, zonked out on Accutane.

  13. avatar Tony says:

    There was a guy in TX that had issues with the Feds, the IRS, if I remember correctly. He flew his small plane into the building and most of it burned. They had no warning and I doubt NYC would have any more. Beside, who really thinks NYC police could actually hit a plane?

  14. avatar ExurbanKevin says:

    A) How big a plane and
    B) How high is it flying?

    I’m pretty certain I could take out an R/C plane with my 870 Wingmaster. Does that make me a terrorist threat in the eyes of the NYPD.

    Oh wait, I own a gun/guns. I withdraw the question…

  15. avatar J Glanton says:

    Maybe the bureaucrat is remembering that they have a liaison plan that allows them to pick up the phone and call the feds for air force support. And he’s just escalating his own self importance, as is his wont, by saying “we” whenever he means “some other people of action”.

  16. avatar RAN says:

    I remember during my days in the infantry in the late 70’s that we would actually train at trying to shoot a plane down with just our M16’s. We would lay on our backs and were told that if it was a prop job we would lead the plane by a football field (I don’t recall what the lead was if it was a jet). They actually had a small remote controlled airplane and fly it overhead to simulate a threat aircraft and we would attempt to shoot it down. The theory being that you put up a wall of lead for the plane to fly into and you might get lucky and hit it. Well our unit was unable to shoot it down. Of course this was the Army in the late 70’s.

    1. avatar Greg in Allston says:

      The theory is sound. Success lies in the proper execution of the functional principles behind the theory. The velocity of the aircraft, it’s altitude, the atmospheric conditions, the velocity of your particular bullet, the shooter’s ability to gauge the appropriate lead to the target under the given conditions and the shooter’s orientation to the target, as well as the vector of the target in relation to the shooter’s orientation, will determine one’s ability to engage the target successfully. Nothing to it, easy as pie. Why I’ve done it more times than I can count. ;>)

      The use of tracers can be a great help.

    2. avatar Aharon says:

      I recall from when I was in the military (early ’80s) hearing about how the Russians trained their infantry to fire at an approaching enemy aircraft. The soldiers would hit the ground (I believe flat on their backs?) and the troops would each focus or aim their AK47s in a specific pattern and individual firing points at the aircraft or space before it.

  17. avatar Robert says:

    They could use those heat seeking .50bmg rounds that can cook a deer on impact! Like those terrorists were going to use in California.

  18. avatar davvehall says:

    Maybe the NYPD has the 20mm Anzio rifle! The FBI has them so why not.A 20mm vulcan round can damage a plane out to 3000-5000 meters!
    http://www.tactical-life.com/online/special-weapons/anzio-ironworks-monstrous-20mm/

  19. avatar Ralph says:

    Shoot down an airplane? No. The NYPD couldn’t shoot down a rumor, but man can it blow it’s own horn. Between padding its arrest statistics, bargaining felonies down to misdemeanors to make the crime rate look better than it is, fixing tickets for union members and stealing apples, the NYPD is a perfect example of what the US can look forward to when all its police departments become as detached from the public.

  20. avatar Mr. Lion says:

    Considering the only weapon they could have remotely close to the capability to do so would be a bunch of .50 BMG rifles: No. Not even a Cessna. Even moving at 150 mph or so, a small plane is not easy to hit, and these are the people who have a tough time hitting bad guys standing 20 feet away with ~100 odd rounds.

    Barring a slow moving, very low aircraft and a million in one shot, not gonna happen.

    I suspect what they probably mean, should one take that kind of comment with any kind of rationality, is that they could have a standby F-16 zip down from Stewart in a few minutes. But even then, the NYPD isn’t the one authorizing a shoot-down.

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