US Scrambles F-16 Fighting Falcons, MH-65 Chopper To ‘Fight’ Aircraft Heading Towards President Biden

A strange visitor near the US President’s residence created a scare over the weekend, prompting the dispatch of the US Air Force’s F-16 fighter jet. 

A spokesperson for the US State Secret Service said that the USAF F-16s were deployed to escort a non-military plane that ventured into prohibited airspace in the vicinity of US President Joe Biden’s residence in Delaware on October 28.

“Shortly after 2 p.m. (GMT1800) Saturday, a civilian aircraft violated restricted airspace north of Wilmington, Delaware,” said Anthony Guglielmi on X of the Secret Service. “As a precaution, assets were scrambled to intercept and the civilian aircraft safely landed at a nearby airport,” he added.

The Secret Service clarified that President Biden’s activities and planned movements were unaffected by the event. However, the Federal Aviation Administration was tasked with launching an investigation into the unprecedented infraction.

In addition to the F-16 fighter plane, an MH-65 helicopter was also dispatched to assist, according to the Continental US NORAD Region (CONR). On its part, the CONR provides airspace surveillance and control and directs aerospace control activities for the continental United States (CONUS).

The military aircraft employed flares to “draw attention from or communicate with the pilot.” CONR stated in a statement that it’s possible the flares were visible to the general public. However, the reports carried no public accounts of the incident by the local public.

The CONR employs fighter jets, radars, and satellites to detect aircraft and decide on the best course of action as a component of the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD). The F-16 fighter aircraft, for one, is one of the most combat-hardened and potent aircraft in the US inventory, which is employed by CONR, along with the F-15 Eagle.

US President Is Often Met With Uninvited Visitors

Although the incident triggered some frenzy, this is not the first time that an unauthorized aircraft US President’s residence flew in proximity to the President’s residence. For instance, a small commercial plane entered restricted airspace near President Joe Biden’s Delaware vacation home in June 2022.

That particular incident triggered an urgent yet brief evacuation of US President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden. Shortly after the incident was reported, the White House announced that precautions had been taken and that there was no threat to Biden or his family.

Following an evaluation of the circumstances, Joe and Jill Biden returned to their Rehoboth Beach residence.

A few months down the line, a similar incident occurred in October 2022. President Biden had just started speaking at an event when an F-16 fighter jet, operating under the control of the CONR, intercepted a small plane in Southern California’s restricted airspace.

The incident occurred over Santa Ana, Calif.; the president’s event was in Irvine, just about 12 miles away.

The NORAD officials said at the time that the fighter jet shot flares to “get the attention” of the Cessna pilot. As per recordings from the Air Traffic Control (ATC), the pilot of that small aircraft was repeatedly informed by the F-16 that he had been “intercepted” by the military plane in the guard and had entered restricted airspace. The pilot requested that the misbehaving Cessna rock its wings and respond to a radio call. 

File:F-16Cs California ANG over SanFran 2004.jpg - Wikipedia
F-16 Fighting Falcons over California-Wikipedia

The F-16 fighter pilot allegedly attempted to attract the Cessna pilot’s attention by performing “headbutt” maneuvers, such as passing in front of the aircraft, according to an unconfirmed tweet containing the exchange.  EurAsian Times could not independently verify this information.

As per the standard protocol, there is nearly always a temporary flying restriction, or TFR wherever the US President travels. When sent to intercept a straying aircraft, fighter pilots will initially make an effort to get in touch with the pilot.

If “non-verbal” means such as headbutts or flares are used, the fighter pilot will resort to using them as a form of communication. 

Any plane that deviates from the flight limits near the president is frequently intercepted by US military airplanes and Coast Guard helicopters. The crews of intercepted aircraft are interviewed by law officials and may be subject to criminal or civil fines at a nearby airfield.

Breaches of FAA-restricted airspace during presidential trips are fairly common and almost always a result of pilot error.

Although these incidents have been mostly non-lethal and non-dangerous, the movement of any aircraft in restricted airspace is seen with the same apprehension.

The cautionary stance adopted by the CONR, however, has become more stringent after a Chinese spy balloon entered the US airspace from Canada and flew over sensitive military installations earlier this year. It was eventually intercepted and shot down by a F-22 Raptor.