The disappearance of 11 jetliners in Libya brings to mind the 13 planes that vanished from radar in Europe due to a reported hack attack, highlighting a scenario in which commercial jets, invisible to radar, are purposely crashed into cities and other critical infrastructure.
Back in June, two unprecedented blackouts caused 13 planes flying over Europe to disappear from radar screens, leaving air traffic controllers with no information on their location, speed, direction or height, and the series of blackouts lasted up to 25 minutes.
Several reports suggested the air traffic control systems were hacked, according to the Telegraph.
“Planes disappeared from screens for a matter of seconds, here and there,” a German air-traffic control spokesperson said. “It must have been an external source of disruption.”
Now, a few months later, at least 11 jetliners went missing from the Tripoli, Libya, International Airport after Islamic militants took control of the area.
“Intelligence reports of the stolen jetliners were distributed within the U.S. government over the past two weeks and included a warning that one or more of the aircraft could be used in an attack later this month on the date marking the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks against New York and Washington,” reported Bill Gertz of the Washington Free Beacon, quoting an unnamed U.S. official.
So it’s feasible the stolen commercial jetliners, if they are still airworthy, could be used to crash into populated areas and public facilities, such as power stations and dams, under the cloak of darkness of a disabled air traffic control system.
Hackers could even create “ghost flights” that appear on radar screens to confuse and distract air traffic controllers.
“We were able to create a flight … we were able to take off from SFO [San Francisco] circle back over the bay, come back and buzz the tower,” hacker Brad “Renderman” Haines told CNBC last year. “If I suddenly injected 50 extra flights onto their radar screen that they hadn’t expected, they’re going to be panicking trying to figure out what’s going on.”