DID SUB-LAUNCHED MISSILE DOWN CIVILIAN JETLINER OFF LONG ISLAND?
By Mike Blair
(The Spotlight, Nov. 18, 1996)
Investigative reporters have focused on the possibility that TWA
Flight 800 was shot down by a missile-bearing submarine on July
17. A CBS News reporter contacted The Spotlight to exchange
information regarding the downing of the airliner, which cost the
lives of all 230 people on board.
The CBS reporter said she was particularly interested in The
Spotlight's reports that U.S. spy satellites had photographed the
downing of the aircraft (Spotlight, Aug. 12 and subsequently).
This is one of the few times that the mainstream media has joined
The Spotlight in a probe of a news story in the populist
newspaper's 21-year history.
The Spotlight reported that a U.S. infrared spy satellite was in
orbit over Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island and had
actually photographed the airliner being downed by a missile.
Similar reports have appeared in New York newspapers.
Most mainstream reports are moving to the conclusion that neither
a missile nor a bomb downed the jet, rather that it was some sort
of accidental internal explosion bringing the plane down.
-+- Photos Studied -+-
According to Spotlight sources, the National Reconnaisance Office
(NRO) was studying "frame-by-frame" photographs taken of the
downing of Flight 800 to determine the type and origin of the
missile responsible for the tragedy.
The NRO is the nation's most secret spy agency, which operates
and collects the data obtained from the highly-sophisticated spy
platforms in space orbit.
According to internal CBS memoranda provided to The Spotlight,
the network news department has determined that Assistant FBI
Director James K. Kallstrom, who is heading the bureau's probe of
the crash out of New York, is "convinced it's a missile [that
destroyed the airliner] and that he thinks the Pentagon is
The Spotlight has researched details regarding an American
guided-missile cruiser that was operating in the vicinity of the
plane crash, some 10 miles off Long Island's southern coast.
It has been determined that the *Ticonderoga*-class guided
missile cruiser, USS Normandy (CG-60), a 567-foot, 9,466-ton
vessel commissioned by the Navy in 1990, was about 180 miles from
the TWA jetliner when it was blown from the sky.
The Navy claims that the Normandy's air search radar was not
working at the time the TWA plane was downed. According to the
*Jane's Fighting Ships*, published in Britain, guided-missile
cruisers of the Normandy's class are equipped with at least three
air-search radar systems, each apparently capable of providing
the others back-up.
The original area of ocean off Long Island determined to be part
of the "crime scene" of the crash by the FBI and other federal
agencies measured an area of 2,400 square miles. That would
place the missile cruiser well within the area.
CBS says that a Navy Lockheed P-3 Orion was airborne at 10,000
feet, about 60 miles from the TWA airliner, when the missile
struck the jumbo jet.
The P-3 Orion is one of the nation's key sub-hunting aircraft.
According to a CBS memorandum, Paul Ragganes, a CBS expert in the
field of military weaponry, "says that the fact that the Normandy
(a cruise missile carrier) was nearby, and that the P-3 Orion was
even closer makes him think that the Navy was at least responding
to a threat. If that's the case, the threat turned into a really
ugly and embarrassing reality."
It has been reported in the media that a Navy H-60 helicopter was
in the area where the TWA plane went down.
According to *Jane's*, the Normandy carries two SH-60B Seahawk
helicopters, the Navy's version of the Army's UH-60 Blackhawk.
The Seahawk is equipped with a LAMPS III (Light Airborne
Multi-Purpose System III). The purpose of the LAMPS electronics
is anti-submarine warfare.
The Seahawk is also capable of releasing submarine-detecting
sonobuoys into the sea where submarine activity is suspected.
The Orion is also capable of releasing sonobuoys.
The CBS reporter has queried the TWA Task Force, which consists
of the federal agencies involved in the TWA probe, about the
presence of the P-3 Orion sub-hunter being in the area of the
crash and notes "this kind of aircraft is usually around when
they're looking for a submarine, or they know one is in the
Since the downing of TWA Flight 800, the FBI and other federal
investigative agencies have received more than 100 reports from
individuals who witnessed a missile streak up toward the
aircraft, just before it burst into flames.
At first, it was speculated that the airplane was downed by
terrorists using a small shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile
(SAM), such as an American-made Stinger.
However, some military experts, including explosive weapons
specialist retired Air Force Gen. Ben Partin, believe that a
larger, far more powerful missile was used.
The retired general said he believes that a far more
sophisticated and larger radar-guided SAM was used, one that is
fired from a fixed launcher, either from a ship, the ground or
some type of mobile launching system.
It was, some experts contend, the type of missile that would
instantly destroy its target, just as Flight 800 was destroyed,
and not a shoulder-fired weapon that could just cripple its
target but still leave it airborne.
"The type of missile that hit Flight 800," the retired general
said, "was of a type intended to destroy a large strategic
bomber, not just damage it and leave it to limp along to its
target to deliver nuclear weapons."