PLATE: C207 Special Intrest 24 Feb 96
This plate depicts the standard operating procedures (SOP) of U.S. air defenses in action: a scrambling of U.S. fighter planes from Homestead Air Force Base. This action took place three hours prior to the BTTR shootdown of Feb 24, 1996. It shows an immediate response to the presence of Cuban MiGs, in the same area of the air ambush that murdered U.S. citizens. Upon BTTR 's arrival to the area, just three hours later, the SOP was placed on hold, allowing Castro to act freely against BTTR.
Items of interest:
1) The SOP was in effect and tested the day of the shootdown. No crossing of Parallel 24 by Cuban MiGs was necessary to trigger a U.S. response.
2) U.S. Air Force presence was enough deterrent; no close encounter was needed. The Cuban MiGs and the U.S. interceptors remained far apart in miles (approx. 80 nm.); however very close on flight time: four to eight minutes apart, depending on the course taken.
3) Radar ground controllers in Cuba observed the U.S. response, and gave instructions accordingly. The MiGs left.
4) Retreat of MiGs upon U.S. response is evident. MiGs last seen at 12:41pm. U.S. interceptors return to base at 1:06 pm.
5) Closest distance of MiGs to Key West radar B-94 at Cudjoe Key: 71nm.
6) B-94 is a balloon used on a daily basis as an antenna for TV Marti, it requires special preparations to be used exclusively as a radar station.
7) MiGs remained within Cuba' s ADIZ at all times, that time.
8) An immediate response by U.S. interceptor's took place. Their departure time must have been very close to the MiGs takeoff, indicating other U.S. intelligence sources present, besides radar (radio communications, satellite etc.). The time of initial U.S. radar sightings: U.S. interceptors 12: 19 pm., MiGs 12:23 pm.
9) No disclosure of this earlier U.S. response in U.S. Govt. press briefings, on the events that took place the same day of the shootdown. The ICAO investigation reports the U.S. radar record of "Cuban military aircraft activity north of Havana between 12: 15 and 12:45 hours" (the time corresponds with that shown in plate C207) and omits any response by the U.S. See ICAO report sec. 1.1.6 pg. 6 and sec. 22.214.171.124 pg. 51.
10) The timing of this event corresponds to the expected arrival of BTTR to the area under its initial flight plan (never activated). This initial flight plan was superseded by the one finally used and was activated for the fatal mission. F AA sent both flight plans to Cuba (please Refer to "The Deadly Protocol").