30 August 2002

Air force plan to ram hijackers

By David Rennie

American pilots could have been asked to crash their fighters into hijacked airliners on September 11, it was reported last night.

At the time of the attacks, America had only four fighter pilots on alert to cover the entire north eastern mainland. As reports of the attacks flooded in, some pilots were forced to scramble without armaments.

While commanders braced for further attacks, the order was given that any other hijacked planes should be knocked out of the sky rather than allow them to attack the White House or other targets.

Col Robert Marr, the north-east defence sector commander, told a BBC investigation that he contemplated ordering pilots to ram hijacked aircraft.

"With only four aircraft, we couldn't defend the whole north-east," he said.