Re: TWA 800: THE CAT IS OUT !!

James Rogers (
Thu, 14 Nov 1996 14:52:01 -0800

>> >> >The facts are that mechanical failure of the sort necessary to have the
>> >> >failure that occured in that plane by itself has been determined to be
>> >> >fantastically unlikely. It is also a fact that they have only found bomb
>> >> >traces on sections of the plane where ordinances had been stored for
>> >> >shipment during Operation Desert Storm. THe traces they found were no
>> >> >where near that beleived needed to induce the blast the plane
>> >> >experienced. What is left?
>> A missile would leave significant residue traces if it impacted on the
>> plane. If the missile was proximity fused, it would leave a very
>> identifiable signature on parts of the plane due to the nature of proximity
>> detonations. Since it has not been mentioned anywhere, I will assume that a
>> proximity detonating missile did not bring down the plane.
>> The Navy's Standard missile (presumably the one used this scenario) most
>> likely uses a large composite warhead of RDX and TNT, both of which leave
>> significant chemical traces, especially TNT. However, no significant traces
>> have been found of any explosive.
>> Essentially all military explosives are detectable both by explosive
>> detection hardware (like TNC) and residue traces. Therefore, assuming that
>> the facts available are correct and true, then military explosives are not
>> involved. This would significantly lessen the possibility that the military
>> was directly involved.
>> HYPOTHESIS: There are much lesser known classes of explosives which 1) are
>> not detectable via normal explosive detection hardware, and 2) do not leave
>> chemical traces normally associated with explosives. This would force the
>> general requirement that the explosive was loaded on to the plane, not
>> delivered by missile. This would also generally show significant intent,
>> since these explosives would require custom manufacture by a knowledgeable
>> explosive chemist. In turn, this would imply a bit more intelligence and
>> resourcefulness than your average terrorist. If you suspect the government,
>> Sandia NL could easily produce the required compounds.
>Actually, there is an anti air missile with very little explosive. The
>Sea Sparrow uses a warhead with a proximity fuse which is little more
>than a very tightly coiled spiral spring (like in clocks). This sort of
>device would explode outside the plane, far enough to eliminate any
>possibility of residue showing up on the plane peices, and would simply
>slice into the body of the aircraft.
>In this scenario, since the Sea Sparrow is a radar guided missile, it
>would hit a plane amidships, where the return radar signal is greatest
>(right where the explosion happened), already "sprung", and would slice
>into the fuel tank so violently that an explosion would result from
>ignited fumes.

How do you define very little explosive? With the Sea Sparrow, you are
looking at about 35 kilos of military high explosive. Compare this to the
fact that most airline terrorist incidents are accomplished with less than 1

True, a proximity detonation would leave little residue, but as I mentioned
above, proximity-fused missiles leave very distinct damage signatures on
aircraft. A person familiar with missile damage could identify what type of
missile and warhead was used simply from the visible damage to the aircraft.
This type of damage would have been immediately apparent on the fuselage.
Even to someone who wasn't familiar with missile damage, it would have been
readily apparent that something unusual happened to the fuselage from the

Assuming the plane was shot down by a missile launched from a boat *other*
than a Navy one also generates some difficulties. The missile capabilities
required to shoot down the jet in the given conditions requires an
intermediate range missile. A shoulder-launched weapon has neither the
range nor the capability required. Your average intermediate range
anti-aircraft missile is pretty large (3-5 meters long) and usually weighs
between 400-800 pounds. Add to this the fairly bulky launching equipment,
and the requirements for a launch platform get pretty large. Most
low-intermediate range anti-aircraft missiles use passive or semi-active
radar (such as the Sea Sparrow). This requires that someone is guiding the
missile to the target using anti-aircraft radar equipment. The bottom line
is that for someone else *other* than the Navy to use such a missile system
would mean some SERIOUS ship retrofitting and hardware acquisitions. I
imagine it is pretty difficult to purchase an anti-aircraft radar system
over-the-counter, never mind the launcher and missiles.

The alternative, although less likely, is infrared-guided missiles.
Infrared guided missiles require significantly less supporting hardware.
However, infrared-guided missiles would have caused severe mechanical damage
to the engines. No damage of this type was found.

Despite "eye witnesses", I still have serious problems with the missile
theory based on the evidence given. However, if a missile is required, the
Navy would be the only real viable source.

-James Rogers